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New Ford Kuga SUV will ring 000 if you crash

The Kuga is among a growing number of cars making it increasingly difficult to have a crash.

The driver has 10 seconds to cancel the call if police and ambulance are not required, but if the line is silent the car will give 000 operators its GPS co-ordinates to send help.

The system is so sophisticated Ford is training emergency services across Australia on what it sounds like and how it operates. The technology is standard on all new Ford Kuga SUVs, which start from $28,000. The only requirement is that a Smartphone is connected to the car via Bluetooth - and that the crash happens in mobile phone range.

Nevertheless, Ford hopes the technology may save lives. “Time is of the essence in critical situations and every piece of technology that can help save lives or reduce injuries is a positive," said Ford Australia spokeswoman Sinead Phipps.

Holden had a similar customer assistance system from 2001 to 2010, but it was subscriber based and required drivers of crashed vehicles to press a button to enlist help.

The Ford system is automatically triggered when airbags deploy.

The Kuga is among a growing number of cars making it increasingly difficult to have a crash. As with a number of cars from Volvo, Volkswagen and Subaru, the new Ford Kuga will brake automatically to avoid rear-ending another car in low-speed traffic.

The top-of-the-range model will also steer straight if you wander from your lane, warn you of cars about to overtake you, and automatically dip the highbeams as other vehicles drive towards you at night.

For mums and dads on the run, the new Ford also has a tailgate that can be opened with a deft swing of your foot (similar to kicking a soccer ball), providing the key is in your pocket or within 1 metre of the car. It’s handy for those with their hands full, or with little ones to watch.

But for all the gadgets, the car that Ford describes as the “Smart SUV” does not come standard with a rear-view camera - even though most leading and cheaper SUV competitors have it standard across the range.

A rear camera is only available on the top-line Ford Kuga which starts at $44,000, whereas the Mazda CX5, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Nissan Dualis have a rear camera on all models, which start below or near $30,000.

Up to two-dozen infants die in driveway incidents each year and hundreds more are seriously injured. Up to 80 per cent of cases involve an SUV or ute - even though they only account for about one-third of vehicles on the road.

When asked why Ford had not made a rear camera available even as an option on the most affordable versions of its latest family car (as its rivals had done), the sales and marketing representative for Ford Australia, Brad Brownwell, said: “Part of the philosophy was … to get people to go up to the [dearer models].”

The Ford representative downplayed the safety benefit of rear-view cameras. “You don’t want people to not look in their mirrors and just stare at the little [screen] and throw the car in reverse. You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings. Some areas wouldn’t say that is a safety feature. In the US you can’t classify (a rear view camera) as a safety feature. It’s a benefit, it’s a surprise and delight.”

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

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