“Safety doesn’t sell.” Or so went the conventional wisdom that followed the failure of Ford’s effort, in 1957, to introduce what was, for that era, a raft of breakthrough safety gear.
This time, the maker is a little more confident that safety really does attract buyers – something that was underscored by a new survey it conducted showing that the latest alert and assist systems could provide a market advantage for the all-new Fusion debuting later this year.
Drivers are well aware their limitations, according to a new survey done for Ford by an independent polling firm and involving a sample of more than 2,000 drivers from across the U.S. The pollster found nearly 50% of those contacted have fallen asleep while driving or know someone who has; nearly six in 10 blame blind spots for accidents or near collisions and nearly four in 10 of those surveyed fear parallel parking.
“We found the drivers we talked to were definitely inclined toward features that provided real practical benefits by alerting them to potentially hazardous situations they may have missed,” according to Billy Mann, managing director of Penn Schoen Berland, which did survey for Ford.
Americans are optimistic by nature, Mann noted. They also tend to think of themselves as careful drivers. Only 1% of those surveyed described themselves as lousy drivers.
However, drivers today are constantly multitasking while they are in the vehicle and they assume other motorists are doing the same, which can create dangerous situations.
Three-quarters of the motorists survey by Penn Schoen admitted to eating or drinking behind the wheel and more than half have exceeded the speed limit or used a hand-held mobile phone. Eighty-three percent admit that either they or someone they know has driven when very tired.
Thus, most drivers surveyed indicated they would welcome some extra electronic help when they’re behind the wheel, Mann said. “For them, assistance features that increase awareness ranked high among their priorities,” Mann said.
Nearly nine out of 10 of the survey respondents expressed interest in technology that could assist in slowing their car if it determines there is a potential collision ahead.
Even the most attentive of drivers can’t see everything around them at all times or anticipate every hazard on the road. Traffic can suddenly slow or someone can slip into the gap between you and the car ahead. When the sun goes down or the clouds open up, it gets harder to judge what a suitable following distance might be.
Two-thirds of the drivers who participated in the survey indicated they would be interested in systems that can help them see around other vehicles while backing out of a parking space and detect other vehicles that might be in a blind spot over their shoulders, Man added.
“Basic transportation has long been the dominant style in the midsize family sedan segment,” noted Amy Marentic, Ford Group Marketing manager. “This survey shows that as consumers have become accustomed to using electronic assistants in other aspects of life, they are increasingly recognizing how technology can help them cope with the stresses of driving,” she added.
Fatigue or inattentiveness can lead to a car drifting out of its lane and eight in 10 of the surveyed drivers expressed interest in a system that could provide an alert or even help to keep the vehicle in the lane. Ford’s Lane-Keeping System uses a forward-facing camera to watch for visible road markings, alerting the driver by vibrating the steering wheel if the system senses the car drifting out of its lane, she said.
The 2013 Fusion is the only car in the segment that also applies torque to the steering wheel to help nudge the car back into the lane.
A full suite of safety features is being made available on the 2013 Fusion, Marentic said, The menu will include a Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with brake support, Lane-Keeping System with Driver Alert System, Active park assist, and a rear-view camera system.
The 2013 Ford Fusion will also get an updated version of the high-tech Sync system, which has been tailored in response to customer criticism to include knobs for key controls — something less likely to result in driver distraction.
Tags: 2013 ford fusion, auto news, auto parking, auto safety, auto-braking, blind spot intervention, car news, car safety, collision alert, ford fusion, ford news, ford safety, fusion safety, joe szczesny, safety poll, thedetroitbureau