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Ford's MyKey automatically turns on Do Not Disturb

With incoming calls going straight to voicemail and new text messages on hold, Ford is trying to minimize distractions for teen drivers.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff
2 min read

Teenagers may have a hard time ignoring a ringing phone while driving, so Ford will do it for them. Ford is making the Do Not Disturb setting a requirement for teen drivers using MyKey.

The Do Not Disturb setting is an anti-distracted-driving feature available on Sync with MyFordTouch or MyLincolnTouch. When selected, Sync automatically sends all incoming calls from a Bluetooth paired phone to voicemail, and stores new text messages for later viewing. Ford is giving parents the ability to make this option mandatory for their teen driver by adding it to MyKey.

Compared with adults, teens are more likely to speed and less likely to wear their seatbelts, which can be a deadly combination in an accident. In fact, vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the Center for Disease Control. Ford's MyKey attempts to make teens safer drivers by placing restrictions and limits on how fast they can drive, and how they operate the car.

In addition to limiting the top speed to 65, 70, 75, or 80 mph, the MyKey offers the following settings:

  • "No belts, no tunes" feature that mutes audio system until front occupants buckle up
  • The ability to block satellite radio channels carrying adult programming
  • Volume control that can limit the audio system to 44 percent of maximum output
  • Traction control system cannot be deactivated
  • A speed chime alert at 45, 55 or 65 mph
  • Early low-fuel warning beginning at 75 miles until empty

By adding Sync's Do Not Disturb feature to the list of requirements, Ford is hoping parents can encourage safe driving behavior. Or at least minimize the amount of distractions tempting their young driver. This new limitation will be available in early 2012 starting with the Ford Explorer.

Of course, it's not fool proof.

MyKey with the Do Not Disturb setting will have little impact on phones that are not paired with Sync. If parents really want to stop their children from texting and talking behind the wheel, they'd be better advised to cut it off at the source: the phone. Some carriers, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, offer services that lock down the phone when it detects it's traveling in a car.