Gadget Gives Parents More Control of Teen Drivers

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Parents can keep an even shorter leash on their teenage drivers, thanks to the latest upgrades of Ford’s MyKey system.

The MyKey system was introduced by Ford (Stock Quote: F) in mid-2009 as a standard feature on Ford Focus 2010 models, providing parents with a programmable key that could be used to set a speed limit of as low as 80 mph for teen drivers. The system also encouraged seat belt use by muting the radio until the belt was buckled, and it offered early low-fuel warnings for teenagers who couldn’t be bothered to check the gauge.

The auto company announced new upgrades for the 2011 version of the MyKey Thursday, including the option to set the car’s top speed as low as 65 mph. More notably, the system will also feature the car stereo equivalent of the V-Chip for vehicles with Sirius Satellite Radio. Parents can disable access to any one of 12 stations designated by Sirius as “explicit,” such as the Playboy Channel or Howard Stern.

Ford says the MyKey’s features will improve both safety and fuel economy, and points to a Harris Interactive poll conducted by Ford that found that 45% of teenagers would approve of the MyKey restrictions if it meant they were able to drive more.

The newest MyKey will debut in late 2011 as a standard feature on the Ford Taurus and Explorer, and will be available on other Ford and Lincoln models, which have yet to be specified.

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