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Ford cars get draconian parental controls

Speed capped, wheelspin nixed, shock-jock radio stifled

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Teenagers will soon find radio shock jocks off the listings, along with loud music, speeding of any kind and wheel spins too – if Dad upgrades to Ford's MyKey system that is.

MyKey works with the MyFord Touch system, a standard feature on many US models which can already lock on the traction control and limit the stereo volume to protect a child's delicate hearing. Now the beloved first-born* can have his top speed capped, and isn't even allowed to listen to "explicit" radio stations, which should remove any remaining vestige of street credibility.

Kids will have to wear seatbelts too, or face a journey in silence as the radio cuts out entirely if belts aren't worn. Mum and Dad are allowed to fly through the windscreen to an accompanying soundtrack as usual, if the air bags don't catch 'em.

The MyKey technology is based on the transceiver already built into many key fobs – used to immobilise cars if the ignition key is bypassed. The fob is already used by some cars to adjust seats and mirrors to pre-programmed settings for that driver; My[First]Key just allows a parent to make those settings on behalf of their children, and will come as standard on the higher-end (US) Fords next year.

According to Ford, 60 per cent of (American) parents want to be able to block explicit radio stations (around a dozen of the several-hundred stations provided by Sirius satellite radio), while 85 per cent of them approved of speed-capping and 45 per cent of their kids even liked the idea – "if it meant the possibility of additional driving privileges".

One might argue that better parenting and some trust would work as effectively as any technology, and that might be true with speeding and wheel-spinning, but surely some freedoms are worth sacrificing to protect children from the worst excesses of US radio jockeys. ®

* Following children are never as coddled as the first-born, anyone with more than one kid will confirm that.

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