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FORD’S INNOVATIVE MYKEY SYSTEM HELPS TEENS DRIVE SAFER, CONSERVE FUEL; G.....

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FORD’S INNOVATIVE MYKEY SYSTEM HELPS TEENS DRIVE SAFER, CONSERVE FUEL; GIVES PARENTS PEACE OF MIND

  • MyKey®, another innovation from the company that introduced SYNC®, allows parents to limit speed and audio volume to encourage teens to drive safer and improve fuel efficiency
  • Harris Interactive Survey shows that many parents would allow teens to drive more often if their vehicle was equipped with MyKey – helping young drivers build road safety experience
  • MyKey debuted as a standard feature on the 2010 Ford Focus and is now a no-cost feature on nearly all Ford and Lincoln models

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 26, 2011 – Ford Motor Company’s innovative MyKey technology is designed to help parents encourage their teenagers to drive safer and more fuel efficiently, and increase safety-belt use.

Ford’s MyKey feature – which debuted as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and is now standard on nearly all Ford and Lincoln models – allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume. MyKey also encourages safety-belt use, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.

“Ford not only offers industry-leading crash protection and crash avoidance systems, we also are committed to developing new technologies such as MyKey that encourage safer driving behavior,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “MyKey can help promote safer driving, particularly among teens, by encouraging safety belt use, limiting speed and reducing distractions.”

MyKey is appealing to parents of teen drivers, including 75 percent who like the speed-limiting feature, 72 percent who like the more insistent safety-belt reminder, and 63 percent who like the audio limiting feature, according to a Harris Interactive Survey conducted for Ford.

About 50 percent of those who would consider purchasing MyKey also said they would allow their children to use the family vehicle more often if it were equipped with the new technology. The added seat time can help teens build their driving skills in a more controlled setting, complementing graduated licensing laws that give young drivers more driving freedom as they get older.

More than half of the parents surveyed worry that their teenagers are driving at unsafe speeds, talking on hand-held cell phones or texting while driving, or are otherwise driving distracted. More than a third of parents also are concerned that their teens do not always buckle their safety belts when driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens are more likely to take risks such as speeding – a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Teens also are less likely to wear safety belts than older drivers.

Teens surveyed by Harris said they are largely open to MyKey if it means they will have more freedom to drive. Initially, 67 percent of teens polled said they wouldn’t want MyKey features. However, if using MyKey would lead to greater driving privileges, only 36 percent would object to the technology.
“We’ve upgraded an existing, proven technology – the SecuriLock® Passive Anti-Theft System – with some simple software upgrades to develop a new unique feature that we believe will resonate with customers,” said Graydon Reitz, director, Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering, the same team that developed SYNC in partnership with Microsoft. “We also developed MyKey’s functions in such a way to quickly spread it across multiple vehicle lines, giving us the ability to go mass market in the spirit of other Ford innovations such as safety belts, stability control and SYNC.”

Holding the key
The MyKey system allows the parent to program any key through the vehicle message center, which updates the SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System. When the MyKey is inserted into the ignition, the system reads the transponder chip in the key and immediately identifies the MyKey code, which enables certain default driving modes, including:

  • Persistent Ford Belt-Minder® with audio mute. Ford’s Belt-Minder system typically provides a six-second reminder chime every minute for five minutes. With MyKey, the Belt-Minder chime continues at the regular interval and the audio system is muted until the safety belt is buckled. A message center display, “Buckle Up to Unmute Radio,” also appears on the instrument cluster
  • Earlier low-fuel warning. Rather than a warning at 50 miles to empty, MyKey provides a warning at 75 miles to empty
  • If MyKey is in the ignition, features such as park aid and BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert cannot be deactivated

Additional MyKey features that can be programmed through the vehicle’s message center setup menu:

  • Limited top speed of 80 mph
  • Traction control system, that limits tire spin, cannot be deactivated
  • Limited audio volume to 44 percent of total volume
  • A speed alert chime at 45, 55 or 65 mph

Using MyKey to teach teens to avoid speeding can provide an added benefit – improved fuel economy. Ford research shows that driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph consumes 15 percent less fuel, and mastering other eco-driving habits such as avoiding jackrabbit starts and excessive idling can help improve fuel economy by more than 50 percent.

Safety is the key
MyKey is just one way that Ford is helping teens drive more safely. Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program helps young motorists master four critical driving skills – hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management – that help address the majority of dangerous driving conditions. More than 3,000 teens have participated in DSFL ride-and-drive events. And more than 500,000 people have used the training course since 2003 on www.drivingskillsforlife.com.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

About the Harris Interactive Survey
The survey of 347 parents of teen-age children was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive from Aug. 1-5. The survey of 249 teen-age drivers was conducted online within the U.S. on behalf of Ford from Sept. 17-22. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

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