'MyKey' system puts teen drivers in check

LOS ANGELES Sending teenagers out into the driving world can be taxing on the nerves for any parent. Even if you invest in advanced driver training, there's no telling how they might behave when free of the watchful eye of a parent or instructor.

So Ford has developed a system that can help keep their driving in check. It's a dedicated key for young drivers to use in the car called "MyKey."

"When we asked parents about putting limits on the vehicle for their teens, they really liked the idea. That's what MyKey is all about," said Jim Buczkowski, Ford spokesman.

Thanks to modern technology, MyKey can be programmed to tell the central computer in the car that an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel.

Alerts display on the dashboard to remind the driver certain speeds have been reached, and top speed is capped at a maximum of 80 mph.

The system also will not allow the car's stability and traction control to be switched off, a move to keep show-off behavior out of the picture.

The MyKey system not only affects how the car drives, it also limits radio volume to 45 percent of maximum. And if your teen doesn't buckle up, the radio turns off completely.

This keeps teens in the habit of always buckling up. After all, living without tunes could be considered torture for some, even if they won't be able to crank them up to full volume.

Right now the MyKey system is standard on the 2010 Taurus, and is being added to the compact Focus too. It will also be phased into most of the company's models.

And in future versions, any parent could be able to program the system in different ways depending on a teenager's experience.

"We've got a long list of potential add-ons for a next version of it. We'll be introducing those in the future," said Buczkowski.

Many parents would like to be able to stay in the car with their sons or daughters at all times, but that's obviously not feasible.

This new high-tech watchdog lets young drivers have their independence, with just a bit of electronic oversight to keep them safe.

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