Ford Focuses On Teen Safety With MyKey

Kids, even if you failed your driver's permit test and borrow the car without asking, your parents can still ruin your fun with Ford's new MyKey feature. Owners of the 2010 Ford Focus, (aka mom and dad), can use the MyKey feature to put the breaks on teen drivers. When the MyKey is inserted into the ignition, the system reads the transponder chip in the key and immediately identifies the MyKey code, which enables certain default driving modes ... er, controls.

A feature called MyKey Insistent -- or is it incessant -- Beltminder lets kids know if the driver and/or passenger belt is not buckled by chiming at regular intervals. While seat belt reminders are available in most cars, this one metes out punishment by muting the audio system, cruelly forcing car occupants to pay attention.

The auto maker said that the MyKey features will become a standard feature on other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models in the furture. Before teen drivers hit the 80 mph mark, MyKey can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.

Ford said that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that teens are more likely to take risks such as speeding, a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Teens also are less likely to wear safety belts than older drivers.

Another MyKey feature is an earlier low-fuel warning. Rather than warning at 50 miles to empty, MyKey alerts kids when they are at 75 miles to empty. No word on whether an alarm will go off if kids try to use their parent's gas cards.

Another bummer is the MyKey audio volume limit feature, which is fixed at 44 percent of total volume. As an added bonus, if their friends are in the car, your kids will be mortified.

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