Ford targets fleets with parental control key

Automotive New reports on a new technology from Ford that lets parents control teenager drivers.

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Automotive News

DETROIT--Ford Motors will target fleet owners with the same technology it is giving parents to encourage safe driving by teens.

The technology, called MyKey, allows the vehicle owner to do such things as cap vehicle speed at 80 mph, mute radio volume until the driver's seat belt is buckled, and warn the driver that a recommended speed has been exceeded.

MyKey will be a standard feature on about half of the 2010 Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln nameplates, said Andy Sarkisian, safety product marketing manager. Ford will offer the feature as standard equipment on most of its 2011 lineup.

"It is a tool to help enforce company policies," said Sarkisian, who spoke here at a Ford safety event. "For the (fleet) owner, it is improved peace of mind because it will encourage safer behavior, discourage risky behavior, reduce liability exposure and protect the vehicle from abuse."

Ford plans to lobby several insurance companies, asking that each provide a discount to companies with MyKey vehicles in their fleet.

The MyKey feature also allows the vehicle owner to activate a seat belt reminder chime that lasts as long as five minutes and a speed alert chime that can be set for 45, 55 or 65 mph. The traction control system, which limits wheel spin, cannot be deactivated.

Another safety feature that Ford introduced is intended to reduce rear-end crashes. Ford calls the feature "collision warning with brake support," and it will be offered on several nameplates next year. Price has not been set.

The system uses radar to detect moving vehicles ahead and warns the driver with an alarm and a light that is reflected off the windshield. The brakes charge and the electronic brake assist system engages for a quick stop. The system triggers the warning when the vehicle is 1.5 or 2.5 seconds from impact, prompting the driver to hit the brakes or swerve to avoid a crash. The driver selects the time period.

"We believe this is one of the most important safety developments for the next five years," said Paul Mascarenas, engineering vice president.

Mascarenas said the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes such a system may prevent 90 percent of the nearly 2.5 million rear-end crashes that occur annually in the United States. He said the majority of those accidents are the result of drivers who are distracted or tired.

(Source: Automotive News)

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