Texting or talking on the phone while driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S., according to recent data. Now Ford is partnering with the family location services startup Life360 on a new tool which could help reduce distractions on the road.
Ford is the first automaker to offer in-car use of Life360 and its new “Drive Mode” feature, which notifies friends and family when a user is in a car and requests that they not get in touch while the user is driving.
“With the integration of Life360’s Drive Mode, we are helping to keep drivers’ attention on the road by letting their loved ones know that they are behind the wheel, encouraging family members and friends to hold off on sending texts,” said Julius Marchwicki, Ford connected services product manager, in a statement.
In 2012, the last year for which data is available, 3,328 people were killed in what the Department of Transportation’s Distraction.gov site calls “distraction-affected crashes”. More alarming, 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of their crash, and drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
Since its launch in 2008, Life360 has enrolled 48 million families on its location and communication platform for family and friends. The free smartphone app retooled its services for Ford specifically with the launch of its “Drive Mode” feature.
The Applink-enabled application launches when a driver connects their smartphone to Ford’s SYNC system, which allows users to navigate apps and communicate via their smartphone while driving. The connection notifies Life360 that a user is in a vehicle, which prompts Life360’s Drive Mode feature to send a message to everyone in the driver’s circle, suggesting not to text the driver. A follow up message is sent when the device is removed from the car.
By saying, “Mom’s location,” or asking “Where is Dave?” the system pinpoints the person’s location on a map and offers a location address.