Technology helps parents monitor teen drivers

RALEIGH The new technology from Ford is called MyKey. The idea is to allow parents to set limits on teenage drivers.

It won't be available to the public until later this year, but ABC11's Tim Nelson was able to test it.

Each vehicle equipped with MyKey comes with two sets of keys. The goal is simple, according to David Bass who drives around the Triangle promoting MyKey.

"[It] allows the parent to have peace of mind as the teenage driver hits the road," Bass said.

The device still allows young drivers some freedom through settings that are controlled by parents.

Parents can use what is called the administrator key to program desired settings.

The main setting is speed. There is a top speed of 80 mph. Ford said it considered a lower max, but "On certain roadways you have to keep up with traffic," Bass explained. "That if you're going a little slower than that, that could also create a safety, hazard, so 80 is the maximum."

But other speeds can cause an alert. A chime can be set to go off when 45, 55 and 65 mph is reached.

And there's more. Another setting can make sure a driver doesn't do certain things behind the wheel. "This setting allows on or off to make sure the teenage driver doesn't spin the wheels, do doughnuts with the car," Bass said.

Once the desired settings are saved, the parent keeps the administrative key and the teen driver gets the MyKey.

ABC11 tested it and as we approached 80, we received a message that we were near top speed and would not be able to go faster.

Another feature of the MyKey technology deals with the radio. If somebody has their seatbelt off, it won't play. But plug the belt back in, and you get your tunes back.

This will allow teen to drive with their friends and listen to music, but with limits.

Ford's research shows 75 percent of parents like the MyKey idea and 67 percent of teens don't like it.

It debuts in the 2010 Ford Focus, which is set to hit car lots later this year. Then the technology will move into other Ford and Lincoln-Mercury cars.

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