Ford MyKey Adds Parental Control to Cars

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Beginning with selected 2010 models, U.S. auto maker Ford plans to offer a new technology called MyKey which effectively adds parental controls to a car, letting parents set parameters for teen drivers. For instance, MyKey can be configured to trigger continuous alerts if a driver doesn’t wear a seat belt; it can also limit the in-car audio system to 44 percent of maximum volume, and set an 80 mph top speed for the vehicle. The system can also sound warning chimes at 45, 55, and 65 miles per hour, and sound a low-fuel alarm extra early so teen drivers have more time to hunt for gas.

“Ford not only offers industry-leading crash protection and crash avoidance systems, we also are committed to developing new technologies such as MyKey that encourage safer driving behavior,” said Ford’s group VP for sustainability, environment, and safety engineering Susan Cischke, in a statement. “MyKey can help promote safer driving, particularly among teens, by encouraging seat belt use, limiting speed, and reducing distractions.”

Ford asked Harris Interactive to survey parents about MyKey features, and says 75 percent of parents liked the speed-limiting feature of MyKey, with 72 percent liking the seat-belt reminder and 63 percent liking the audio system volume limiting feature. Not surprisingly, 67 percent of teens said they didn’t want anything to do with MyKey features, but only 36 percent would object to the technology if it meant they could drive more.

Incidentally, Ford decided on the 80 mph speed limit feature to allow some leeway for unusual situations. Also, some speed limits on some state highways are 70 mph or faster.

The MyKey system also prevents traction control systems from being switched off, and prevents features like Park Aid and Blind Spot Information System from being turned off while the key is in the ignition.

MyKey will debut on the 2010 Ford Focus and the company says it will eventually become a standard feature.

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