Ford's New MyKey Puts Parents in the Driver's Seat With Their Teens

By Editors on September 25, 2009 8:38 AM

Hoping to encourage teenagers to adopt safe driving techniques from the very first time they get behind the wheel, Ford has begun rolling out a new safety enhancement called MyKey. This programmable ignition key allows parents to limit certain performance aspects of the vehicle and ensure that various helper systems, including Park Aid and the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert, remain operational at all times. Recognizing that speed is one of the primary causes of accidents involving teens, MyKey can hold the car's top speed to 80 mph and engage a speed-alert chime at 45, 55 or 65 mph. It can also prevent the traction control system from being deactivated. Additionally, MyKey can start issuing low-fuel warning notices at 75 instead of 50 miles of remaining range, limit the radio volume to 44 percent and also includes a Persistent Ford Beltminder with audio mute circuit that goes beyond the normal Beltminder system by continuing to chime and fully mute the audio system until the safety belts are properly fastened.

While MyKey may sound a bit draconian to the typical teen, according to a Harris Interactive Survey commissioned by Ford, there is an upside: nearly 50 percent of parents queried said they would consider allowing their teen-age children to drive more often in a MyKey-equipped vehicle. As for scoring its specific features, 75 percent of those interviewed liked MyKey's speed-limiting capability, 72 percent praised its more insistent safety-belt reminder and 63 percent were impressed with the audio limit feature.

According to Jim Buczkowski, director of Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering (the same team that developed SYNC in partnership with Microsoft): "We've upgraded an existing, proven technology -- the SecuriLock passive anti-theft system -- with some simple software upgrades to develop a new unique feature that we believe will resonate with customers. We also developed MyKey's functions in such a way to quickly spread it across multiple vehicle lines, giving us the ability to go mass market in the spirit of other Ford innovations such as safety belts, stability control and SYNC."