January 31, 2011, 8:49 PM — Using tech to work while you drive is a great concept. But for the time being, it's widely accepted that sending and checking e-mail or texting while behind the wheel is very unsafe.
The temptation is great, of course, to sneak a peak at your Blackberry or iPhone to check messages or to take a call, especially when stuck in stop-and-go traffic, even though it is illegal to do so in many states and despite the tremendous risk. According to the results of a Pew Research Center survey, 27% of all American adults sent or read text messages while driving in 2009.
However, General Motors and Ford are developing alternatives they say will allow drivers to continue working safely while behind the wheel. With voice-enabled commands, drivers should eventually be able to check e-mail or text without posing dangerous risks to themselves or others, Ford and GM say.
Ford's Sync infotainment system currently allows for selected smartphone applications to run on a dashboard console. At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier in January, for example, Ford unveiled its MyFord Touch for Sync. The system, among other things, allows drivers to select music and routes for GPS-guided navigation on dual 4.2-inch LCD screens with corresponding five-way button steering wheel controls and an 8-inch touchscreen. But specific to office and work applications, Ford's Sync should allow drivers to do a lot more during the coming years, company executives say.
Within three to five years, Ford expects to develop an application for Sync that will read e-mail and text messages out loud as they are received, the company told PCWorld. The system should also allow drivers to dictate e-mails and text messages into the on-board computer hands-free while driving.
GM says it is developing a voice communications app for Android mobile phones that will let drivers send and receive text messages and Facebook updates using only their voices. The app uses a Bluetooth connection between drivers' phones and their vehicles.