Ford MyKey System Discourages Responsibility

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How many of us exceeded the speed limit, cranked up our stereo a little too loudly, or neglected to wear our seatbelt when we first began driving? How many of us had a teenage fender-bender? How many of us learned the hard way that one or all of these behaviors were foolish and are now wiser for it?

Ford has come up with a safety system that will allow parents to keep their children from acting stupidly while driving a 2010 Focus with the “MyKey” system. Parents will issue their young driver a specially programmed key that limits top speed and stereo volume, as well as a feature that locks out the stereo so long as seatbelts are un-fastened. The MyKey system also features an earlier-than-normal low fuel reminder and some very innovative radar-based “potential collision” warning sensors. In short, the MyKey system will help parents keep their kids from acting like, well, kids.

Will Ford’s new MyKey system make teens safer at the expense of responsibility?

On the one hand, the benefits are obvious. Teen drivers (as a group) are more likely to have an accident, so the MyKey system may help reduce accidents (and therefore insurance rates) by reducing speeds, warning about possible collisions, and limiting distracting music. Teens might accept the system as they’ll likely enjoy more freedom from their re-assured MyKey programming parents.

However, let’s set the positives aside and talk about the negatives. This system doesn’t help teens learn and explore limits – what happens when the next car these young people drive doesn’t have the MyKey system and they’re suddenly able to drive as fast as they would like? What will happen when these young people can make the stereo as loud as they want, or decide not to wear their seatbelt without fear of retribution? What happens when they don’t get an audible warning when their car is approaching a potential collision?

What happens when these young drivers enter the real world?

The MyKey system is an example of the safety nets that plague the “don’t let me fail” generation – rather than letting children explore their limits and make mistakes (i.e. FAIL), a large element of our society has decided that children should avoid failure situations at all costs. The result is a generation that doesn’t take responsibility for their actions (or their failures), insisting instead that someone or something else is to blame.

Of course, the MyKey system makes sense. The harm caused by artificially set limits and radar-based collision warnings is more than compensated by the safety benefits. Still, it also makes sense to consider exactly what the harm is in letting young drivers speed, crank the stereo, and maybe even get in a little fender bender. After all, we turned out OK – won’t the kids turn out OK too?

Filed Under: Auto News

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  1. TXTee says:

    I like the idea and don’t see it as taking away responsibility and learning. By that same token one can make a correlation that drivers are not as attentive because they feel safer with the inception of airbags and ABS braking systems. This system sounds more like “training” the teen to do the right thing and be used to doing the speed limit, having radio at a normal level, etc. so that when they do get in another vehicle it has already been embedded what positive driving techniques are.

  2. Jeremy D Great says:

    Sorry Tex, I have to totally disagree with this entire concept. I feel the advantages are vastly out weighed but the disadvantages. There are moments that it is safer to drive at faster speeds, like say when a ax weilding nut job in a 76 pinto is trying to run you down and kill you. I COULD HAPPEN, I would guess. I prefer a tattletell system. In all seriousness if my life was in peril and my teen had to drive me to the hospital I think I would want her to be able to go a little faster than what I thought was safe when I was being protective daddy. Or if someone was stalking her I would want her to be able to drive with all haste to the police station. That is my take on this. As for the radio, no human in their right mind wants me setting their radio volume. Two words, Bleeding ears.

  3. TXTee says:

    And all of what you stated are not what I consider normal driving conditions either. It’s not intended to be idiot proof – just a safety measure since many states are now allowing teens to be licensed without attending driver’s education. Quite frankly, my teen wouldn’t have to worry about MyKey because there’s no way I’d ever buy a beginner a brand new anything. =)

  4. Jeremy D Great says:

    Amen to that.

    Here is a old tank that barely runs. Once you get that running on a consistant basis and stop running over mailboxs and/or people standing by mailboxes well talk about getting you something from a more recent decade.

    I guess I expect my children to be atleast as smart as I was. I was a smart driver and tried to not put myself in bad situations. I backed into a garbage can that was below my line of sight, no damage. and hit a volvo when my brake system went out in my Isuzu truck, I pwned that Volvo. Barring Animals hitting my vehicles (and senile old ladies) I have been problem free for the rest of my driving life. My wife has not, end of that story. I will be training my kids how to drive.

    I find the entire line of thought for that key system to be counter productive. I bought the big engine in my truck just in case I might need it. Same problem with that key system, what if you need it? merge into traffic and misjudge a truck traveling much faster than you first thought,

    NAIL IT!!! OH CRAP. We ARE AT THE LIMIT!!!! He is doing 75, you are doing 55. or you go to pass a very slow moving car, pull out start to pass and UH OH…here comes a car, you are commitied to the pass but just need a little more juice to safely make it around.

    I have accelerated out of as many wrecks as I have braked out of. Sometimes moving faster is the right answer.

    Wait, you ride a bike. You already know that. I had to learn that the hard way on a bike. I laid a bike down in a corner ’cause I braked when I should have accelerated. My skin grew back, no scars. The helment was DESTROYED but my face was untouched.

  5. Jeremy D Great says:

    We need better Driver education.

  6. TXTee says:

    I have the perfect use for this MyKey thing: driver’s ed cars instead of the boring simulation models BEFORE they let you on the road to still run into curbs. It’s a specialty market concept that I don’t think the general public will be looking for. I ENJOY actively driving/riding and don’t want to auto pilot on the road.
    So I see MyKey as a good idea in that sense but not a practical use for extended periods of time. Teens need reliable enough rust buckets to get their butts to school and that part time job to buy their own vehicle so they’ll feel the pain of what it is to have a ding or totaled out ride.

  7. Jeremy says:


  8. TXTee – You’re right of course – this is a good system. I just find the whole concept irritating – while it’s true that my point of view is a little ridiculous (safety is always paramount), I really object to the fact that (as a society) we don’t let our kids fail more often. I don’t think you learn from experiences near as much when some system (like the “trophy for everyone” system or the “no holding back” system) kicks in to “save” you. Having said that, I agree with your perspective. BTW, amen to not buying a kid a new car. They’ll never learn to appreciate nice things in life until they have not-so-nice things.

  9. Jeremy – Right on Breaux! 🙂

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