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Reducing driver stress to increase safety

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they are working together to advance automotive technology to reduce driver stress.

Ford and MIT officials say they are studying driver workload to identify new opportunities to use vehicle technologies to lower stress and consequently improve safety.

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In fact, the officials say the researchers are focusing on how the car can potentially enhance overall human wellness and become an oasis from stressful situations.

Jeff Rupp, a Ford manager of active safety research, says the project will identify specific stress-inducing driving situations, monitor a driver's reaction to the situations using biometrics and evaluate methods to incorporate new stress-reducing features into the next generation of Ford products.

"We strongly believe that driving can be made safer by reducing the stress load placed on a driver," Rupp said in a statement. "Through the use of our existing technologies such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning ... our voice-activated communications system, we are proactively guiding drivers away from difficult situations.

"The goal of this program is to take this one step further by creating the most comfortable driving environment possible so that our driver is always relaxed, calm and able to perform at peak performance."

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