MFG 2.0

Ford Rolls Out New Anti-Crash Device -- Teen Speed Regulator

Interesting news on product development for safety's sake out of Dearborn today:

The company will roll out a new feature on many 2010 models that can limit teen drivers to 80 mph, using a computer chip in the key.

Parents also have the option of programming the teen's key to limit the audio system's volume, and to sound continuous alerts if the driver doesn't wear a seat belt.

The feature, called "MyKey," will be standard on an unspecified number of Ford models when the 2010 cars and trucks come out late next summer. The feature will spread to the entire Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup as models are updated.

Although some parents would no doubt liked the speed regulator to be set even lower, a spokesman said that the automaker chose 80 mph for two reasons: one, to leave a margin in case an unusual situation arises; and two, because in some states freeway speed limits are above 70 mph.

A couple more gems in the story, the first on contrasting perceptions of the new technology:

Ford said its market research shows 75 percent of parents like the speed and audio limits, but as you might expect, 67 percent of teens don't like them.

And of course, the money quotes:

Danisha Williams, a 16-year-old senior at Southfield-Lathrup High School in suburban Detroit, said she's against the idea.

"Waaaaah. Waaaaaaaaah."

I'm just kidding -- here's what she actually said:

I wouldn't want my parents to have that much control over how I'm driving," she said. "If your parents are holding your hand, you're never going to learn."

But this one is the icing and takes the cake:

Brittany Hawthorne, 17, another Southfield-Lathrup senior, said there may be emergency situations where she'd have to drive more than 80, possibly to accelerate to avoid a crash.

Whoa. That's pure, unadulterated teenage logic. Accelerating to more than 80 mph to avoid a crash. That sounds as smart as giving a $800 billion bailout to a bunch of bankers.

Now, if we could just program MyKey to disable the cellphone, we'd all be getting somewhere (safely).

TAGS: Innovation
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