Innovation That Matters

Safety controls for parents of teen drivers

Mobility & Transport

Teen drivers are more likely to speed and less likely to wear seat belts than older drivers are, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, causing their parents no end of concern. Last year we wrote about Safeco’s Teensurance solution, combining auto insurance with GPS-enabled parental monitoring, and now auto giant Ford is adding another control option to give parents some peace of mind. Ford’s new MyKey system allows parents to limit speed and audio volume, improve safety-belt usage and provide early low-fuel warnings on the cars their teens drive. Using the vehicle message center, which updates Ford’s SecuriLock passive anti-theft system, parents begin by programming the transponder chip on their teen’s key. When that key is inserted into the ignition, the system then identifies the MyKey code and enables the selected driving modes. Among the programmable options is persistent Ford Beltminder with audio mute, which not only sounds a six-second reminder chime every minute but also mutes the stereo system until the safety belt is buckled. Audio volume in general can be limited to 44 percent of the total possible, and parents can set an 80-mph limit on the car’s top speed, with speed alert chimes at 45, 55 or 65 mph. Rather than a warning at 50 miles to empty, MyKey also provides a low-fuel warning when there are still 75 miles to go. And when the MyKey is in the ignition, safety features including Ford’s Park Aid, BLISTM (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert, and traction control systems cannot be deactivated. MyKey will debut next year as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and be added soon afterwards to many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. Of course, as most parents know, anything that gives adults peace of mind is likely to meet with resistance in their teens. On the other hand, many parents surveyed for Ford by Harris Interactive said they’d let their kids drive more often if they were using MyKey–a fact that caused the proportion of teens who said they dislike the feature to drop from 67 to 36 percent. Proving once again that a spoonful of sugar can help any medicine go down–help that happen, and you’ll get some spoonfuls yourself! 😉 Contact: Spotted by: Zena Hockley



Download PDF