Keyto safer teen drivers
Parents can set a speed limit when their kids have the car, writes Stuart Martin
SPEED-LIMITERS and radio filters for young drivers could be part of the Ford features list before the end of the year.
The new Focus and Mondeo are among Ford products that could support the updated MyKey safety system, which in the US can be used to restrict young drivers’ access to satellite radio stations and limit vehicle speed.
Much of Ford’s US product has the MyKey feature, which now has four maximum speed settings — 105km/h, 113km/h, 121km/h or 129km/h.
Ford engineering director of electrical and electronic systems Graydon Reitz says the company wants to give parents peace of mind.
‘‘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’s MyKey,’’ he says.
The company quotes research involving parents of teenage drivers showing 85 per cent say the speedlimiting feature is important.
US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research says teenagers are more likely to take risks such as speeding, which it says is a contributing factor in 30 per cent of all fatal crashes.
In the poll, more than half of parents said they would allow their teens to use the family vehicle more often if it had MyKey.
Teenage drivers say they like the system — 45 per cent of those surveyed would approve of the MyKey system if it meant better access to the family car.
The upgraded version of MyKey will make its debut as a standard feature late this year on the US Ford Taurus and Explorer.
Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald was unwilling to nominate a debut model for the system in Australia, but says the company is always looking at these new technologies and their application locally.
‘‘Absolutely we’d like it, limiting speed for young drivers and things like that, if it’s feasible and fits into any of our future products and we can offer it at an affordable cost — standard or optional,’’ he says.
‘‘There are a lot of questions to be answered before these things can get the tick, not the least of which is how the systems can be applied locally for our product line-up.’’
The MyKey technology could appear in the facelifted Mondeo and coming new Focus, both due this year.
Parents can program the MyKey function through the ignition key, putting the car’s system into the appropriate ‘‘tune’’ for teen drivers.
The seatbelt reminder chime with the MyKey system continues and the sound system is muted until the seat belt is secured.
The teen driver also gets an early low-fuel warning, and the system doesn’t allow features such as parking sensors, blind-spot warning system and traction control to be turned off.
Ford US is also spruiking the MyKey benefits for fuel economy.
The company’s research says driving at 89km/h instead of 105km/h consumes 15 per cent less fuel.
One good turn: the MyKey system, controlled by a computer chip in the key, allows parents to limit a car’s speed and set a maximum volume for the audio system. It is aimed at making driving safer for teenagers.