Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic Ford not taking the mickey on teen driver safety, delivers MyKey

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Think of MyKey as the ultimate car key to “parental control” in 2008, letting you set speed and audio volume limits for teen drivers among other safety features. It’s meant to deliver safer driving, improved fuel efficiency and increased parental peace of mind, while parents get their own key without the limitations.

Ford’s 2010-model Focus, due next year, will come with unprecedented safety features aimed directly at teens through the new MyKey system, before quickly becoming standard on “many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models” thereafter.

MyKey “allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume”, while also encouraging “safety-belt usage, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 miles per hour.”  

It’s all designed to encourage teenagers to drive more safely and more fuel efficiently, while increasing safety-belt usage, lowering driving speeds while making users more aware of faster speeds and helping to prevent ever running out of fuel.

Susan Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering said: “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 behaviour. MyKey can help promote safer driving, particularly among teens, by encouraging seat belt use, limiting speed and reducing distractions.”

As you can imagine, parents of teen drivers surveyed by Harris Interactive Surveys for Ford say the system is appealing, with 75% liking the speed-limiting feature, 72% like the more insistent safety-belt reminder, and 63% who think the audio limiting feature (like on modern iPods and the iPhone) is a good idea.

Given that car sales in the US have tanked, especially now that the credit crunch has really hit, it would seem that better technology has come to the rescue of at least some sales.

50% of those “who would consider” buying a car equipped with MyKey also “said they would allow their children to use the family vehicle more often if it were equipped with the new technology.” 

The reasoning given is that: “the added seat time can help teens build their driving skills in a more controlled setting, complementing graduated licensing laws that give young drivers more driving freedom as they get older.”

What else did the survey uncover about safer driving, what are more technical details of the MyKey system, and what does it look like in a video? Please read on to page 2.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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