Friday, October 10, 2008

Programmable speed limiters for cars

Let’s face it, if there was technology out there to help encourage teens to be safer drivers, truckers would likely be among those in favor of it.

Ford Motor Co. has introduced new technology called MyKey that includes a speed limiter setting for the engine of certain models. MyKey can be programmed to limit the top road speed of the Focus model to a maximum of 80 mph.

They say it will curb road racing, but to be honest, I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen a Focus doing 80 mph. Oh well, it’s a start.

A practical application for the MyKey is that it can be programmed to sound warnings to the driver when the car reaches 45, 55 and 65 mph.

MyKey encourages seat-belt usage by chiming frequent reminders and by muting the vehicle’s stereo until the seat belt is engaged. That’s practical. It won’t let drivers play the stereo until they’re buckled up.

MyKey also limits the volume of the stereo to 44 percent of its total volume to encourage the driver to pay attention to the road instead of the latest CD from My Chemical Romance.

The programmable technology will come standard on 2010 and newer Ford Focus models and will soon be standard on other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, officials announced on Monday, Oct. 6.

About half the people surveyed during testing said they would allow their teens to use the family car more often if the vehicle were equipped with MyKey technology.

Initially, 67 percent of the teens surveyed didn’t like the idea of having this technology limit their driving habits, but that number dropped to 36 percent if using it meant they could borrow the car more often.

It’s a step in the right direction. What they really need is for technology – or at least a driver education course – that teaches teens more about sharing the road with large trucks.