A new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) study shows that Ford's Sync voice-activation system helps drivers minimize electronics-related visual distractions. The study, results of which were released April 15 in Detroit at the SAE 2010 World Congress, compared the Sync system to manual operation of handheld cell phones and music devices. In the Ford-commissioned study, drivers familiar with Sync drove a Mercury Mariner while initiating a call, selecting music tracks, and having phone conversations with Sync and with their own mobile phones and portable music players. When study participants initiated a call, handheld operation required more than 2.5 times as many glances away from the road and more than four times eyes-off-road time than when drivers used Sync. For MP3 player song selection, handheld operation required more than six times as many task-related glances than Sync and took more than 10 times eyes-off-road time. VTTI’s new study is consistent with its groundbreaking “100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study,” completed in 2005 for the U.S. Department of Transportation.That study concluded that manually dialing a handheld device while driving was almost 2.8 times riskier than normal driving. The study also showed that talking and listening on a phone while driving has a similar risk to normal driving.