Ford’s MyKey aims to set a speed limit on teenage drivers. Should we welcome this latest safety innovation or are we letting technology fill the parenting gap?
It’s hard to forget the exhilarating sense of freedom and independence offered by that first ever solo jump behind the wheel. Even if it was still your old folks’ car, for the first time ever it was you deciding the where, when and even how fast.
However, for this generation of teenagers, technology, rather than strict parenting is about to ever so slightly clip those exuberant teenage wings.
Holding teenage drivers back
Ford’s MyKey system allows car owners to programme a “master key” that sets limits on how the car is driven. For instance, the top speed can be capped, seatbelt and lower low-fuel warnings activated and even the stereo volume limited (though we don’t think it can effect music choice just yet). You can expect to see the MyKey on Fiesta’s from 2012.
Crucially it lets parents prevent know-it-all teenagers (who get their own not so smart key) from deactivating safety systems and tearing down country lanes at 100mph.
Of course, that’s a crass generalization, and there’s likely more safety conscious teens on our roads than not, but teenagers still sit uncomfortably in the high-risk category.
Whatever your parenting style, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to counter-act a mix of inexperience and youthful risk-taking exuberance. And though MyKey may feel to some like a bit of technological nanny-ing, if it means giving kids the freedom of their first solo drive with fewer risks then I’m all for it.
Technology becomes the parent
According to Department of Transport statistics, road deaths have been falling for years (it dropped by a remarkable 17% between 2009 and 2010).
That’s down to years of legislation, safety campaigns and safety technology, from the humble seat belt (pressure from Which? helped make them compulsory) to the latest advanced braking systems. MyKey could potentially fit into this pattern – only time will tell how much of an impact it makes.
MyKey certainly isn’t a panacea, but it could be a glimpse into all our driving futures. If Ford is able to give parents a “master key” that limits a car’s capabilities for their kids, what’s to stop manufacturers completely removing driver freedom and limiting cars for the rest of us?
Who knows, your next car might just hold the master key and call the shots.