General Motors has welcomed Ford Motor Company's efforts to identify and conquer driver distraction, while noting it was first to raise the issue.

Bob Lange, Engineering Director, GM Safety Center said that GM was the first automaker to publicly identify this safety issue last October by launching its initiative, "SenseAble driving," a $US10 million programme that combines research, education and technology.

"We are glad to see that Ford shares our concern about driver workload and is providing resources to help address this traffic safety issue," Lange said.

"SenseAble driving is based on an unprecedented corporate commitment to four common-sense guiding principles that GM developed nearly a year ago. These principles govern how we will design and use telematics technology in our vehicles."

GM is planning systems that will:

  1. Keep drivers' eyes on the road and hands on the wheel
  2. Minimise the amount of steps required to complete a task using in-vehicle communication devices
  3. Create systems that look and function similarly in GM vehicles
  4. Use a lockout system to make tasks that create unnecessary and excessive demands on the driver unavailable while the vehicle is moving.

Next month GM, in partnership with the Michigan Secretary of State's office, will introduce educational materials in all 178 branch offices aimed at Michigan drivers renewing their licenses. The campaign includes an interactive computer demonstration that will target younger drivers. Following the Michigan pilot, the programme will be extended to other states.