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Gadgets

Ford MyKey: Forcing kids to drive safely

We're used to parental controls on TVs, computers and games consoles, but that list could soon include cars if Ford gets its way, the date-ruining gooseberry

We're used to parental controls on gadgets such as TVs, computers and games consoles, but that list could soon include cars if Ford gets its way. The blue oval has recently unveiled MyKey -- a system designed to suck the fun out of driving help your kids stay safer on the road.

It uses a special ignition key that enforces a pre-determined list of vehicle options geared towards safety, and prevents certain systems -- such as traction control -- from being deactivated. So when Junior wants to borrow the car to go to the drive-in, he gets the MyKey, and presumably sulks off, hating you even more.

MyKey chimes repeatedly if seatbelts aren't worn. It'll also limit the volume of the car stereo to preserve the hearing of your music-obsessed progeny and reduce the chances of them being distracted by Snoop Diddy. It's almost like you're on the date with them -- perhaps a future version will show prospective girlfriends embarrassing pictures of them as toddlers.

The system is also designed to restrict the vehicle's top speed to 80mph. That's fairly pointless: 80 is still fast enough to break the highest speed limits in most countries and, more importantly, cause a lorryload of damage in an accident. Audible alerts sound whenever the vehicle reaches 45, 55 and 65mph to "alert young drivers" of their speed.

Presumably, the chimes can also be used in a sort of game, where kids accelerate as quickly as possible to see how many beeps they can get before they run out of road. Hopefully kids are way too sensible to try that. Oh, hang on a minute...

Expect MyKey to be an option on most of Ford's models from 2010 onwards. -Rory Reid