Believe it or not, the day will finally come when parents can not only restrict the insane levels of music blaring from the car radio, but make sure that their youthful driver keeps the throttle revved under 80 mph or lower. This device, a key embedded with a special computer chip, will also activate an annoying reminder if passengers don’t buckle up. Unfortunately, this holy grail of parental control won’t be available until late next summer via Ford Motor Co.’s 2010 line of vehicles. Still, it’s something to look forward to... unless you’re a teenage driver, of course.
"Our message to parents is, hey, we are providing you some conditions to give your new drivers that may allow you to feel a little more comfortable in giving them the car more often," said Jim Buczkowski, Ford’s director of electronic and electrical systems engineering.
Currently the company already uses anti-theft technology to prevent its line of automobiles from starting without recognizing the inserted key; MyKey will use this technology as a foundation to build upon "through the magic of software," claims Buczkowski.
He also revealed that the company felt that capping the speed limit to 70 mph was too limiting even though that is the existing freeway speed limit in most states. Setting the limit to 80 mph gives way to margins of error like avoiding accidents, disorderly conduct involving teenage goofiness or developing a severe case of lead foot. According to an article over on Yahoo (story), parents will not only be able to set the 80 mph cap, but activate an alarm that will alert the driver at 45, 55 or 65 mph.
Sounds like a devious plan to annoy teenage drivers? You bet it is, and the seat belt alarm can be just as aggravating, chiming for six seconds every minute. The alarm shuts off after five minutes however to prevent evoking a serious case of road rage.
Ford Motor co. will begin using MyKey in the 2010 Ford Focus, then move on to the entire Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury lineup. Other vehicle manufacturers may begin to develop similar technology for their cars, but until then, consumers are locked in to purchasing Ford products if they want to have this level of control over teen driving.
The big question is this: how will the teens react to MyKey? Naturally, they will rebel against it. "I’m not opposed to the speed limit aspect," said Michael Parrish, freshman at Hoggard High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. "That’s how one of my friends died... speeding while drunk driving. He crashed and was decapitated. But if you plan on restricting my radio levels, I’m just going to plug in my earphones and listen to my MP3 player instead."
Another student wasn’t quite so optimistic. "I wouldn’t want my parents to have that much control over how I’m driving," 16-year-old Danisha Williams of Detroit, Michigan told Yahoo. "If your parents are holding your hand, you’re never going to learn."
Her comment is not surprising. Ford conducted a market research and discovered that 75-percent of the parents questioned loved the speed limitations, whereas 67-percent of the teens hated the idea. Still, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5,000 teenagers die each year due to car crashes in the United States alone. Perhaps this MyKey technology will reduce that number... if they’re driving a Ford, that is. Then again, perhaps the threat of the MyKey technology will turn teenagers away from driving altogether, thus locking parents into the never-ending task of chauffeuring their kids everywhere.
Maybe MyKey isn’t a blessing, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.