Ford’s MyKey onboard car control system targets distracted driving, allowing parents to set speed, music and mobile phone limits for their newly licensed teenagers.
MyKey lets parents limit top speeds, audio volumes, and block inbound calls and texts while the vehicle is running. The service also deactivates the audio system unless all front passengers are buckled up and blocks adult content radio stations, besides warning drivers when the tank is running dry.
Tech-savvy teens can still get around the call and text-blocking feature by deactivating their Bluetooth devices, but MyKey offers parents a strong level of control, even when not with their teens.
“MyKey can give parents peace of mind when they hand the keys over to their kids, and the new Do Not Disturb feature helps parents control another risk factor when their child gets behind the wheel,” said Peter Patzelt, system architect for the MyKey system.
Ford’s MyKey is the first program of its kind targeted toward teens. Teenage drivers are the most dangerous demographic on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accounting for one-third of all fatal crashes as they are more likely to speed than to wear seatbelts.
Teens are especially prone to texting behind the wheel, according to a study by Nielsen, which determined they text each other an average of once every ten minutes.
Texting while driving slows reaction time by half, which is dangerous for everyone, but particularly for text-happy teenage drivers with little road experience.
Parents’ reluctance to give their children smartphones before they become teenagers may actually complicate the situation. Consequently, those who get car keys and smartphones both on their 16th birthdays are understandably tempted to use both new toys at once.
To combat this lethal combination, Ford and other automakers are equipping their vehicles with systems like MyKey and Sync, another of Ford’s inventions that reads incoming texts out loud to drivers.
The U.S. government is debating regulations and fines for those caught surfing the web and navigating traffic, even contemplating outright cell phone bans for select groups like truckers. Tools and apps by phone and car makers may be attempts to head off further government intervention.
Distracted driving continues to plague roadways in the U.S. and around the world. Ford’s onboard MyKey system may curb crashes, but they need purchase cars to get the services. MyKey’s “Do Not Disturb” call-blocking feature is available in the U.S. on 2012 Ford Explorers and 2011 models with SYNC and MyFord Touch.