Ford's key-with-a-chip to control teen drivers

Programmable key allows parents to limit a car's maximum speed, keep the stereo down, remind the driver to fasten the seatbelt, and warn about a low fuel tank.

Ford's MyKey will come standard in the 2010 Focus coupe. Other models will follow. Ford Motor

Ford Motor has found a new way for parents to keep teen drivers in check when they lend them the car, the company said Monday.

MyKey, a car key with a chip, can be programmed to curtail the top speed of its user to 80 mph.

The MyKey will come standard with the 2010 Focus coupe and eventually will be available on other Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models, according to Ford.

In addition to implementing a speed limit, the key can be used to limit the volume of the car stereo system and emit a chime for six seconds every five minutes until the driver puts on a seatbelt.

MyKey can also be programmed to chime once each time the car reaches 45 mph, 55 mph, and 65 mph to alert young drivers about their acceleration.

Another feature, useful to anyone who fails to notice when the fuel light goes on, chimes when the car is 75 miles from empty. (The light on a Ford usually goes on at 50 miles to empty.)

The new gadget is part of Ford's Driving Skills for Life program, which is dedicated to educating drivers not only about safety but also on techniques for reducing fuel consumption.

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