Ford’s MyKey Technology: Keeping Teens Safe

It’s called Ford MyKey, but there’s more to it than just the key.

When Ford introduced its MyKey technology two years ago on select 2010 models, parents loved it but teens hated it, begrudgingly. Because although it put restrictions on them, parents said they would let their teens drive more in a Ford MyKey-equipped vehicle.

What is MyKey?

MyKey is, through the use of electronics, a way to monitor certain driving behaviors in a vehicle. Ford developed MyKey, which gives the manufacturer a competitive edge, although others are introducing similar systems in their new vehicles. Hyundai’s blueLink technology allows drivers to create a “geo fence” that will alert owners via a smart phone if the vehicle is taken outside preset areas. Chrysler and GM also are working on, or already have on the market for 2012, similar systems that do geo fencing, but nothing that incorporates all the features of MyKey.

How Does MyKey Work?

Simple actually. The owner of a Ford vehicle (see availability list below) is provided two keys. One of the keys, when programmed by the owner from inside the vehicle using the messaging center on the instrument panel, becomes the administrator/owner key, while the other key becomes the controlled MyKey. The administrator determines which features to monitor. What’s nice about MyKey is that it isn’t just for teenage drivers, but for those who have fleets and wish to curtail bad driving habits by employees.

What are the MyKey Features?

Deactivation Lockout
While it’s a blast to turn off traction control and other dynamics safety systems so we can do donuts in a parking lot, we also know how quickly a situation can carom out of control. Anyone who’s ever had to explain a crumpled fender or bashed-in rear door to his parents certainly knows this. With MyKey, the fun is over, for the inexperienced driver, at least. If the vehicle is equipped with some of Ford’s safety systems, i.e., AdvanceTrac stability control program, Forward and/or Reverse Sensing System, Collision Warning with Cross Traffic Alert, and Blind Spot Information System, to name a few, the administrator can set the system to prevent the MyKey holder from disabling those systems.

Persistent BeltMinder Reminder
You know that annoying chime that reminds you to buckle up? MyKey can be programmed to keep that chime going indefinitely every few seconds, and in addition mute the radio until both the driver and front-seat passenger are buckled up. “No belts, no tunes” is what this is called: brilliant. Teens will do anything to keep the music going.

Audio Volume Limit
Remember what Ted Nugent said? If it’s too loud, you’re too old. A righteous adage to be sure, but when you’re a 16-year-old driver, that means you can’t hear emergency vehicles, or any possible mechanical problems. MyKey administrators can limit the audio system to a 44 percent maximum volume, which is a buzzkill for sure, but will help prevent a teen kill. Great idea.

Early Low-Fuel Alert
The game we played as a teen was called “can I get back home without putting gas in the tank”? You won if you could pull into the driveway on vapors. The prize? Losing your car privileges because your dad ran out of gas on the freeway on his way to work the next morning.  Obviously, someone at Ford had played this game, because with MyKey, the administrator can set the low-fuel chime to come on at 75 miles to empty instead of the usual 50-miles-to-empty reminder. How thoughtful. Another new-driver game bites the dust.

Speed Chime Alert
Speeding and teens is one of the biggest problems on the highway. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding accounts for about 30 percent of all fatal crashes involving teens. MyKey allows the administrator to set speed chime alerts at 45, 55 and 65 mph to remind the driver to keep the pedal off the metal.

Set Speed Limits
When first introduced, MyKey could limit the top speed of the vehicle to 80 mph. Many parents felt this was too high, so for 2011 model vehicles, the speed limit can be set to, 65, 70, 75 and 80 mph, depending on the administrator’s choice.

What’s New for MyKey?
We pointed out the new speed limit feature above, but what else has Ford added to the MyKey control list?

Do Not Disturb
Of all the MyKey features, this is probably the most important, as it prohibits drivers from answering their cellphones while moving. The phone needs to be paired with SYNC® or MyFord Touch® for the feature to work, but nine times out of 10 it will be so the music plays through the car’s audio system. Available starting on the 2012 Ford Explorer, Do Not Disturb sends any incoming phone calls directly to voicemail, and in addition, any text messages are saved on the phone but the driver is not notified of an incoming text. Drivers can still make outgoing calls using voice-activation, and, in the event of an emergency, Ford’s 911 Assist™  feature can still make a call.

MyKey no question is a great addition to a vehicle’s safety. Protecting our children is what parenting is all about; it’s nice to know that manufacturers like Ford are giving teens a chance to become responsible adults.

MyKey Availability (Standard feature on Ford models)
2012 Ford Explorer
• 2011 Shelby GT500
• 2011 Fusion
• 2011 Fusion Hybrid
• 2011 Taurus
• 2011 Edge
• 2011 Flex
• 2011 Escape
• 2011 Escape Hybrid
• 2011 Explorer
• 2011 Expedition and Expedition EL
• 2011 F-150
• 2011 Super Duty Pickups
• 2011 Super Duty Chassis Cabs
• 2010 Focus
• 2010 Taurus
• 2010 Flex
• 2010 Escape
• 2010 Escape Hybrid
• 2010 Expedition and Expedition EL
• 2010 F-150

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