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Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Modern technology means that parental controls are now spreading to cars as factory equipment, and the automaker leading the charge is Ford. Using the latest version of the company's MyKey system, parents can now block their children from listening to certain radio stations – say, for instance, Howard Stern or Playboy Radio on satellite. In fact, there are a dozen stations listed as explicit by Sirius, and all of them can be blocked using MyKey starting in 2011.

Also seeing an upgrade for 2011 is MyKey's speed-limiting technology. Previously, the top speed of a properly equipped Ford vehicle could be capped at 80 miles per hour (with chimes sounding at 45, 55 and 65). Now, users can preset a desired speed limit at any of four different settings – 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph. While an obvious safety feature, the technology can also dramatically improve fuel efficiency.

Already, Ford's MyKey allows parents to limit audio volume, encourage seatbelt usage by muting the radio until front occupants buckle up and provide earlier low-fuel warnings. All of these could be considered important safety features, considering that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that teens are more likely to speed (a contributing factor in 30 percent of fatal accidents) and are less likely to use their safety-belts.

Ford contracted the firm Penn, Schoen & Berland to conduct a survey regarding its new MyKey features, and the results aren't terribly surprising: 85 percent of parents believe the speed limiting controls are important and 60 percent say the same regarding the radio content controls. Even 45 percent of teen drivers themselves say they approve of the technology... just as long as it means they get extended driving privileges from their parents. Of course, said teens can also simply circumvent the MyKey safety leash by listening to CDs or their MP3 players, but we digress.

Check out a video and full press release after the break to learn more about how the system works.

Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011
  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011
  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011

  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011
  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011

  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011
  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011

  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011
  • Ford's upgraded MyKey for 2011

[Source: Ford]

Show full PR text

Just as parents block their teens from watching X-rated films or web videos, Ford Motor Company will introduce the world's first technology that will screen explicit radio content while youngsters are driving.

* Ford is upgrading its award-winning MyKey® feature with a world-first technology that allows parents to block explicit satellite radio programming while their teens are driving
* The upgraded MyKey technology also will allow parents to limit a vehicle's top speed at any of four different settings – 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph
* A new poll by Penn, Schoen & Berland shows a majority of parents with teen drivers like MyKey's features, including nearly 60 percent who say the feature to block adult radio programming is important and 85 percent who believe the speed-limiting feature is important
* The upgraded version of MyKey will debut as a standard feature late next year on the Ford Taurus and Explorer and will quickly be offered across a variety of Ford and Lincoln models

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 29, 2010 – Ford Motor Company is preparing to debut a new version of its breakthrough MyKey® technology that – for the first time – will allow parents to block explicit satellite radio content in the vehicle, much like parents are able to prevent children from viewing certain types of television and Internet content.

The new feature will debut next year as standard equipment on the Ford Taurus and Ford Explorer, and will eventually be available across a variety of Ford and Lincoln vehicles. MyKey – designed to help parents encourage safe teen driving habits – is an easily programmable key that can limit a vehicle's top speed, limit radio volume and encourage safety-belt usage by muting the radio until front occupants buckle up.

The radio-blocking feature works by screening out more than a dozen channels labeled by Sirius® Satellite Radio as "explicit." While similar technology is used for blocking inappropriate content on televisions and computers, never before has such an option been available for radio programming in vehicles.

Ford's current MyKey system – standard on most North American vehicles after launching in summer 2009 – allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle's top speed to 80 mph, with chimes sounding at 45, 55 and 65 mph. The upgraded MyKey technology will now allow parents to limit a vehicle's top speed at any of four different settings – 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph.

"Ford wants to give parents peace of mind that their kids are following practical household rules in the car," says Graydon Reitz, director, Ford Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering. "Parents obviously like this type of feature, and many teens are okay 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."

In a poll conducted for Ford by Penn, Schoen & Berland, nearly 60 percent of parents of teen drivers said the new MyKey feature that allows for blocking explicit radio content is an important technology. The survey also indicated that 85 percent of parents with teen drivers find the speed-limiting feature important.

The additional top-speed limits available in the next generation of MyKey will help parents set appropriate limits as their teens transition from driving in town to traveling on the highway. Additional features already available on MyKey limit audio volume, encourage safety-belt usage by muting the radio until front occupants buckle up, and provide earlier low-fuel warnings.

In the poll, more than half of parents also said they would allow their teens to use the family vehicle more often if it were equipped with MyKey. Meanwhile, 45 percent of teens surveyed would approve of MyKey restrictions if it meant the possibility of additional driving privileges.

Tuning into teen safetyAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are more likely to take risks such as speeding – a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Teens also are less likely to wear safety belts than older drivers.

"Like graduated licensing laws, MyKey helps parents set reasonable limits for teens as they're building driving skills," Reitz said. "We developed MyKey's functions in such a way as to quickly spread it across multiple vehicle lines, giving us the ability to go mass market in the spirit of other Ford innovations such as SYNC®."

Holding the key
MyKey allows the parent to program any key through the intuitive MyFord Touch™ interface. When the key is inserted into the ignition, the system reads the transponder chip in the key and immediately identifies the MyKey code, which enables certain default driving modes, including:

* Persistent Ford Belt-Minder® with audio mute. Ford's Belt-Minder system typically provides a six-second reminder chime every minute for five minutes. With MyKey, the Belt-Minder chime continues at the regular interval and the audio system is muted until the safety belt is buckled. A message center display, "Buckle Up to Unmute Radio," also appears on the instrument cluster
* Earlier low-fuel warning. Rather than a warning at 50 miles to empty, MyKey provides a warning at 75 miles to empty
* If MyKey is in the ignition, features such as park aid and BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert cannot be deactivated

Additional MyKey features that can be programmed through the vehicle's MyFord Touch menu:

* Parental control of explicit radio programming
* Limited top speed of 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph
* Traction control system, which limits tire spin, cannot be deactivated
* Limited audio volume to 44 percent of maximum
* A speed alert chime at 45, 55 or 65 mph

Using MyKey to encourage teens to avoid speeding can provide an added benefit – improved fuel economy. Ford research shows that driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph consumes 15 percent less fuel, and mastering other eco-driving habits, such as avoiding jackrabbit starts and excessive idling, can help improve fuel economy by more than 50 percent.


About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think it is all great. More peace of mind for the parents and more safety for all of us on the road. This should actually be standard in vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The only people that bash Ford anymore are those die hard Chevy fans that don't want to admit that Obama is funding their manufacture and racing programs with taxpayers money because they couldn't sell enough vehicles to keep GM afloat!!! Same with Chrysler !!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is great for parents to be given tools to aid in their control of what their children hear or see. Frankly, there are many adults who also object to having to see and hear obnoxious stuff billed as for adults. I don't have kids at home and chose the Ford family option for that very reason. It is the non-Christian folks pushing crap I don't want that is objectionable. It is also the directors of movies who insist on their freedom of expression that opposed the rest of us having the option to decide what type of movie content we wanted using the V chip. The public deserves the right to choose rather than being forced to view and hear the junk pushed by Progressives.
      • 4 Years Ago
      HELLO, HELLO.......Using Howard as a scapegoat is wrong. Maybe if the haters actually listened to the show they would realize that 90% of the time, it is brilliant commentary and discussion about current events and pop culture. BABABOOEY to you all!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Neat, more 65MPH moving chicanes on the Interstate.
      • 4 Years Ago
      playboy radio = porn for the blind.

      let the flaming begin!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      They really should be squelching NPR more than anything. That vile station could rots brains far quicker than any of the idiotic Stern broadcasts.
        • 4 Years Ago
        News that doesn't yell at you? How dare they!
      • 4 Years Ago
      LOL....who in there right mind would let a teenager to drive/use their car in the first place? My kids want to drive they can buy their own car, keep your hands off mine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't buy my kids a car either. They can buy their own car with their own money and pay for the gas,insurance and upkeep themselves. No money no car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not all of us are wealthy or permissive enough to buy cars for our kids, so they are forced to drive the "family" car when necessary. While on that topic, NO one under 17 should be able to drive for ANY reason!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can it block Rush Limbaugh too???
      • 4 Years Ago
      For kids, parental controls on the radio suck. I don't believe in censoring anything really, that will just make your children resent it and go about other ways to obtain what they want and more than likely stumble upon something much worse.

      The speed limiter and speed warning chime is a great idea, in my opinion. The slower the new drivers go, the safer they are. Can't tell you how many times I've been passed by some teen girl texting on her phone while driving 75MPH. This will certainly save more than a few lives.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What in the world are you talking about?

        Yes, I understand what a distraction is, but how does that relate to what I was talking about??? How does Howard Stern or the Playboy channel play anything that has a bass line that would bother you at a stoplight?
        • 4 Years Ago
        you didnt specifically mention the Playboy radio station...or Howard Stern, so your comment was taken as a blanket restiction...unless somehow Howard and Playboy and censorship imply the same thing.You did however state Parental controls on the radio suck, last I looked, volume happened to be one area My Key and the Parents can control...loud volume is not condusive to good driving habits...especailly in the case of someone still utilizing Clearasil.
      • 4 Years Ago
      German cars had speed limiters and warning systems in the 80s and 90s and no one used them. I don't know if they even have them anymore.

      Maybe it'll be different here since it is set by different keys?

      The radio thing seems even more pointless. If your kid is old enough to drive, they have seen worse than Stern on the internet already, and additionally since they are driving when listening, they have a huge smorgasbord of bad things they can expose themselves just a few driving minutes away.

      All in all, I mean again, this stuff is "free" because it's just software features, it doesn't add cost, so more power to 'em. But I think the actual utility is pretty low.
        • 4 Years Ago
        no additional cost for software features? So I guess hiring software engineers and paying them for their time invested in writing new software features into an already finished piece of software, then in some cases (like Sync) allowing customers to update their car's software with the newer software through means like a dealership network and downloading them online to a flash drive doesn't cost Ford a dime, amirite?
        • 4 Years Ago
        article about Ford + spin cycle comment = bashing guaranteed
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bashing what?

        I said why not put it on? I said more power to them. I didn't say "stupid Ford does it again".

        If I don't think people will use it based upon my experience with what happened in the past, I'm going to say so.

        If parents are worried about their kids speeding, how about a system that lets them see top speed their kids have attained while driving?

        Then they can find out what their kids are doing without hard limits. Then they can talk about what the kids are doing and why they shouldn't instead if just encouraging them to try speeding in another car which doesn't have a limit later. That's what my father did to me when he (by chance) caught me speeding.

        I just don't think this tool is all that useful or will get used much. So I said so.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's old and tired news, Hoof. What's done is done, and GM/Chrysler is paying back the loan every day so why flog a dead horse? Now if they could figure out how to sell a Volt for less money, THAT would be great, because $4.00 gas is coming!
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