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In following a theme this week of driver distractions here is an article from the Lexus folk that is interesting.

Make It A Priority: Create A Hands-Free Environment In Your Vehicle

(NAPSI)-Although busy schedules and the growing demands of everyday life are helping pave the way to a very dangerous highway trend–texting or talking on handheld cell phones while driving–you can save yourself. The fact is, in spite of growing accident statistics and a number of laws banning the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel, millions of motorists still think it’s acceptable to multitask while driving.

Driving a vehicle is a complex skill that requires your full attention. Operating a handheld phone, using the navigation system or controlling the air or audio can be driver distractions that can take your eyes off the road or your hands from the steering wheel.

Statistics show that driver distractions are major contributors to automobile crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes that involved distracted driving. Also, the National Safety Council estimates that 28 percent of crashes-1.6 million crashes per year-can be attributed to cell phone talking and texting while driving.

Fortunately, one luxury automaker offers an array of technologies in its vehicles to help reduce driver distractions. Standard equipment on Lexus vehicles includes steering wheel controls for audio, Bluetooth technology and voice recognition. In addition, some models with navigation have a thin film transistor multi-informational or available heads-up display that shows the driver turn-by-turn directions within his or her sight line.

At the push of a steering wheel button, the Bluetooth technology allows hands-free outgoing phone calls using voice commands to dial by name or number from select Bluetooth cell phones. A microphone built into the car lets you talk without holding your mobile phone, and the other caller’s voice is channeled through the vehicle’s audio system. To answer an incoming call, the driver simply presses a button on the steering wheel.

Additional hands-free features are taken to new heights with the available navigation system’s voice command/voice recognition technology. Voice command enables you to place calls with your compatible Bluetooth phone and operate climate, audio and navigation functions. For example, if you say “lower temperature,” the climate control will be reduced by one degree. If you say “coffeehouse,” from the destination menu, the navigation screen will display options in your surrounding area.

An advanced telematics system, Safety Connect or Lexus Enform with Safety Connect, is available on all new Lexus vehicles with a complimentary one-year trial subscription. Safety Connect helps provide peace of mind and includes an Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Stolen Vehicle Location.

For convenience, vehicles equipped with navigation feature Lexus Enform services, Destination Assist and eDestination, plus the four Safety Connect services. By simply pressing the Destination Assist button on the navigation screen, whether you’re driving or parked, a live agent comes on to help locate a specific address or point of interest. The agent wirelessly sends the location to the vehicle’s navigation system for route guidance.

Driver distraction is a growing trend that affects everyone. By using common sense and taking simple steps such as incorporating and utilizing the hands-free devices in your vehicle, you can help reduce driver distraction and drive more safely by keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

You can find more about these features at www.lexus.com.