Parents use Ford system to place limits on teen drivers

September 13, 2018

These days when parents hand over the car keys to a teenager, they don't always relinquish total control. Some vehicles come equipped with systems that allow parents to monitor their child's driving or control things like top vehicle speed and sound system volume.

A new IIHS survey shows one such system, Ford's MyKey, is catching on. However, more than a third of respondents said they didn't know their vehicle was equipped with the system.

MyKey allows vehicle owners to program a key for their child. For example, the owner can set the top vehicle speed, program speed alerts at varying levels, limit audio volume and make it impossible to disable the do-not-disturb feature.

For the study, 1,500 adults who own or lease a Ford vehicle equipped with the technology were questioned. Each respondent had at least one teenager age 16-19 in their household.

Respondents were read a short description of the MyKey system and were asked if they were aware of it. Fifty-seven percent said they were aware, 39 percent said they were not, and 4 percent were unsure.

Of those who knew about the system, 61 percent said they used it with their teen driver, and 12 percent said they planned to use it in the future.

Among parents who said they don't plan to use MyKey, the most common reason cited was that their teenager wasn't a primary driver of the equipped vehicle. Many parents said they didn't need it because their child was trustworthy.

Of the parents who used MyKey, most said they had learned about it at the dealership. Previous research has shown that many salespeople have limited knowledge about safety features on the vehicles they sell. That may explain why such a large percentage of vehicle owners weren't aware of the system.

"Systems like MyKey have the potential to reduce the risks faced by teen drivers by limiting speeds and distractions," says Rebecca Weast, an IIHS research scientist and the paper's author. "To do the most good, more consumers need to be aware of it and to choose to activate it for their young driver."

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