Ford MyKey allows parents to set limits in new drivers’ cars


Imagine a car key that knows when a seat belt is not buckled. The key sends a signal to the car which causes a continuous tone to sound and keeps the radio muted.

Once the seat belt is buckled, the tone stops and the radio starts playing. A normal key can’t do that, but a MyKey can.

MyKey is a technology designed by Ford that parents can use to set limits on teen drivers. It will first appear on the 2010 Ford Focus, and will be a standard, no charge feature.

Brian Bohman, sales manager at Brian Bemis Ford Mazda Hyundai, 1370 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore, said the technology is found in both the key and the car.

“The key itself is different from regular car keys,” Bohman said. “There’s a chip inside the key. When you start the car, it recognizes the MyKey and automatically sets limits.”

MyKey limits the top speed of the car to 80 mph and will continuously chime until the seat belt is buckled, among other functions. It also has certain safety features, like blind spot monitoring, that cannot be deactivated, said Bohman.

Bohman said the preset limits are to instill safer driving habits in teens.

“[There have been] a lot of studies about teen drivers and making poor choices. The MyKey feature reinforces positive behavior and eliminates some distractions,” Bohman said.

Matt Todd, freshman music education major, said setting boundaries early can keep new drivers safe.

“Everyone, when they first start driving, eventually wants to see what going 100 miles per hour feels like, and that can be dangerous,” Todd said. “[MyKey] is like training wheels on a bike, starting teens out with restrictions.”

Others, like Brian Brems, graduate student and English teaching assistant, disagrees with the technology, and said he thinks the freedom to drive a car should not be controlled.

“This kind of system really doesn’t put any faith in kids and their acceptance of responsibility,” Brems said.

Installing the MyKey feature on the 2010 Ford Focus is just the beginning of the smart key revolution.

“The plan is to put this feature on all Ford cars eventually,” Bohman said. “… depending on how successful it is, you could potentially see it or something similar on all vehicles in the future.”