Skip to main content

Teens Will Hate Driving with Ford's MyKey

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.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • magicandy
    A little lighter on the religious vibe in the intro next time, Kevin. This is news, not opinion.
  • frozenlead
    I don't think this will reduce accidents at all. Most cars I get into already ring if the driver's belt isn't buckled. Some cars have a speed cap built into the ECU that force them to stop accelerating at a certain speed.

    They say 5k teens die from car crashes each year, but they don't say how many of the 5k die because of reasons that this key can prevent. My guess is it's not that high. This key can't prevent a stupid decision or a silly stunt.

    I'm all for the speaker thing, though. I get into my friends cars all the time, and they immediately turn up the radio all the way. They think it's cool, but working for a sound productions company teaches you better. The sound that comes out of a maxed out radio (most, at least) is nothing but garble. It gets even better when they max out the bass, and you hear this horrid braahhhmm every time the speaker beats. It just sounds terrible, I don't know why people do it.
  • MyKey is great tech. I can't see a situation where it would not be useful. But, what would be even better situation to help your teen learn to drive responsibly is to make him/her pay for his/her vehicle with their own money earned through a real part time job and summer jobs. Also, to insure their auto under their own name, and pay for all repairs necessary to keep their vehicle on the road. Perhaps then the teen may learn the value of money, the responsibility in having a job and monthly bill to pay, and finally the reward of knowing that with hard work he/her can achieve and succeed. Who knows, maybe he/she will also learn a desirable skill: how to troubleshoot and repair your automobile. I know I did.
  • Good heavens NO! Just make it harder for teenagers - indeed, harder for everyone - to attain a license. I hate to see more reinforcement of the message that speed kills.
  • This is a last-ditch effort for Ford to sell some cars. Safety doesn't start with the car, safety starts with good education. And 80 mph is faster than highway speed anyway, more than enough to kill someone if there is an accident.
  • invisik
    Im sure we will figure out a hack for this nonsense.
  • noobe1981
    Honestly I see nothing wrong with this. Will to a point. Speed limit well its not gonna do much anyways. Doing 80 in a 45..well you get the point. The buckle alarm absolutely is a good thing. Sorry, but until they turn 18 it is up to the parents wither they want to go this route or not. The music.. Eh again same with the speed limit really isn't gonna do much with all the music devices around. They just won't be able to go blaring down the streets.

    Also some of these state driving courses are just a straight up joke. I'm orginaly from IN then moved to GA and how to get my driving license renewed, and since I lost it I also had to take both writing, and driving. The test was a joke compared to IN, and the driving was in a course. Ya, that can tell a whole lot about how a person is gonna drive with other traffic.. /sarcasm off
  • Shadow703793
    Good tech, I admit. BUT, watch this thing get hacked in a few weeks after release. Some teens aren't stupid!
  • mlopinto2k1
    LOL... Im 27 and rarely hit EIGHTY miles an hour. Jesus Christ. I love to speed too, just dont have any damn reason to go that fast. This car wouldn't bother me one bit! Mom, can I borrow your car? Atleast I know I wont damage the engine! Kids are plain and simply ridiculous. They have no respect for their parents or the concern they display. You can blame the parents for falling prey to the stupid rules enforced by law. If my kid gave me a nasty attitude because I wouldn't give him my key to drive the car fast then 80mph, I would consider kicking his ass out or sending him to a military school.
  • i heard that on radio when i was driving to school :] guess what? ford sucks donkey balls. i would never drive ford, i have 2004 vw jetta with couple tweaks :p and yes i drive faster so i dont get late to school kekekekekeke