Parents who have teenage drivers in their family may want to buy an Explorer next year--that's when Ford becomes the first car manufacturer to use the MyKey Do Not Disturb technology, which allows blocking off incoming phone calls and text messages.
When hooked up to Ford's Sync technology, this new feature blocks incoming phone calls and text messages from a Bluetooth-paired mobile phone, diverting calls into voicemail and saving text messages on the device for viewing later. However, unlike turning the phone off, drivers can still make outgoing phone calls in case of an emergency. This is voice- activated to one can still keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
According to Ford, distracted driving is of particular concern as it relates to young, inexperienced drivers, and the Do Not Disturb feature helps parents control another accident risk factor when their child gets behind the wheel.
"Adding Do Not Disturb to MyKey is yet another way Ford is helping parents to encourage their kids to drive safer," said Andy Sarkisian, Ford safety planning and strategy manager. "We are continually listening to our customers and responding to parents' desire to make sure their kids are paying attention to the road, not their cell phone."
Besides the Do Not Disturb feature, other MyKey features that parents might find useful for their teenage drivers are: a limited top speed of 65 (over 100kph), 70, 75 or 80mph (nearly 130kph); a "No belts, no tunes" feature that mutes audio system until front occupants buckle up; the ability to block satellite radio channels carrying adult programming; volume control that can limit the audio system to 44 percent of maximum output; a traction-control system that cannot be deactivated; a speed chime alert at 45 (over 70kph), 55 or 65mph (over 100kph); and an early low-fuel warning that starts at 75 miles (120 kilometers) until empty instead of the default 50 miles.
"Our dealers tell us that when they have a buyer with kids in the house and they mention the MyKey feature, every single one of them says, 'How do I turn that on?' Customers are very happy with the feature," Sarkisian said.