Is MyKey the right key?

Ford’s MyKey technology to let parents control settings when their kids drive touches a deeply emotional issue for any parent: their children’s safety.

In an October 8 column, Automotive News’ Executive Editor Edward Lapham says he likes some of the features in Ford’s technology, such as warnings when the speed is creeping up. But Lapham objects to restricting the speed, asking “why hamstring the vehicle’s ability to avoid a dangerous situation?”

Overall, his position was that personal responsibility -- both for parents to teach their children the limitations and power of motor vehicles and how to handle them and for teenagers to behave -- is the key.

Inevitably, our community is taking sides.

“Explain to me the situation where a 16-year-old driver will be in more danger because he can’t go more than 80 mph?” asks John V.

Mike agrees with Lapham about advisability of not spying on offspring, but adds “a technology to prevent them from speeding is a great idea.”

In support, andi says “If you can’t trust your kid to do the right thing, then don’t let them drive.” And the writer adds, “What’s next? Will we find out that they are installed for anyone that has a speeding ticket?”

Also in support of personal responsibility over nanny technology is Ford Retiree, who says “Remember parents, you can’t control everything they do.”

But andi, in a second post, suggests that anyone who is happy to restrict a teenager to a specific speed might also be happy if all cars were speed restricted. “Or how about a car that reads the speed limit off a sign and restricts the car to that?"

In a droll dig at Lapham, Kenny says the problem with Ford’s technology is that “the only ones that will use it are cautious, responsible families while those who really need it” -- and here he repeats Lapham’s words about his own kids’ experience -- “will deride it.”

So who is right here? What is the best way to handle turning the keys over to teenage drivers? Personal involvement in their training and depending on their judgment, or the training-wheel approach of Ford’s MyKey technology?

I suspect Ford is unsure about the precise details, or it wouldn’t be talking publicly about something not available until 2010 models come out. This is the sort of thing everybody absolutely wants to get right. What do you think?

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