You and your kid may have the greatest relationship on the planet, but it’s in a teen’s DNA to find it totally uncool having you ride shotgun during the process of learning to drive. When the day comes to be legally allowed to go it alone, the teen driver will probably feel like it’s finally the first day of the rest of his or her life. For parents, it will probably feel like the first day of the rest of the ulcer they’re going to develop knowing their baby is driving a car. Alone.
But necessity is the mother of innovation, and Ford wanted to put parents’ minds at ease as their teens developed their driving skills, since you won’t always be there to say “buckle up!,” “watch your speed!” or “turn down the radio!” The answer is MyKey®, which has the ability to limit a vehicle’s top speed and audio volume, while also encouraging safety-belt use.
“MyKey is exclusive Ford technology that encourages responsible driving habits for teenage drivers,” explained Brian Bennie, Ford Technology and Development Implementation Supervisor. “The parent can set reminders that sound a warning tone when the driver goes over a preset speed. MyKey also promotes safety-belt usage by muting the radio and keeping the Belt-Minder® warning from timing out if the driver and front passenger are not buckled up.” Also, rather than a low-fuel warning at 50 miles to empty, MyKey provides an early warning at 75 miles to empty.
A Harris Interactive Survey conducted for Ford revealed that more than half the parents surveyed worried about their teenagers driving at unsafe speeds, talking on hand-held cell phones or texting while driving, or are otherwise driving distracted. More than a third of parents also admitted to concern that their teens do not always buckle their safety belts when driving.
With MyKey, the parent can program any key through the vehicle message center, which updates the SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System. “It only takes a minute or two to program MyKey. The parent decides whether to activate it, and also decides which of the configurable features to turn on or off. And that encourages conversation between the teen and the parent about the importance of good driving behavior, so as they grow older, safe driving becomes a habit.”
When 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. Also when in the ignition, features such as park aid and BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert cannot be deactivated. “Ford wants to give parents peace of mind that their kids are following practical household rules in the car,” said Graydon Reitz, Director, Ford Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering. “Parents obviously like this type of feature, and many teens are OK with it when they hear parents may give them the keys more often if the car comes with a technology such as Ford MyKey.”
Ford Planning Safety Manager, Andy Sarkisian, was one of the original inspirations for MyKey. “His daughter walked away from two serious accidents because she wore her safety belt,” Brian said. “He also received a letter from a young neighbor who thanked Andy for saving his life after he walked away from a serious accident, because Andy had encouraged him to wear his safety belt. The message is, safety belts save lives.”
Another benefit to MyKey is that it’s teaching teens a thing or two about improving fuel economy by not speeding. Ford research shows that driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph consumes 15 percent less fuel, and mastering other habits such as avoiding jackrabbit starts and excessive idling can help improve fuel economy by more than 50 percent.
MyKey debuted as standard equipment on the 2010 Focus, and is now standard equipment on nearly all Ford and Lincoln models.