Years ago some people might have expected to see flying cars by 2009, but a new feature coming in Ford vehicles resembles something from “Knight Rider” more than “The Jetsons.”
MyKey, a system making its debut in the 2010 Ford Focus model, allows owners to program their cars to limit their speed and turn down the tunes.
“You can set the speed so it won’t exceed 80 miles per hour, and the volume will only go up to 44 percent of the total volume,” Helen Seliverstov, a Ford MyKey safety representative, said Tuesday in Richland as she showed how the system worked in a deep blue Focus.
Though MyKey can be used by any driver, it’s especially meant to appeal to parents of teenage drivers.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission says nearly 26 percent of drivers in fatal crashes from 1998 to 2007 were 16 to 19 years old.
And while MyKey cars may not help fight crime like KITT from the popular ’80s TV series, the features can help prevent drivers from getting tickets and improve fuel efficiency.
“There’s really no reason to go faster than (80 mph),” said Erica Tungesvik, Richland Police Department crime prevention officer. “The volume limit also would probably save some people from getting tickets.”
Kennewick, Pasco and Richland all have vehicle noise ordinances for music that can be heard certain distances from a vehicle.
MyKey will come standard on the Focus and eventually will be added to other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.
The system has two different keys for the ignition, but just one is an administrative key that can set preferences such as the speed and volume limits, as well as chimes that ring every time the car’s speed reaches 45, 55 and 65 mph.
The car’s audio system also won’t turn on if the driver isn’t wearing a seat belt and will warn drivers sooner that the gas level is getting low.
Lynda Lu, the Benton-Franklin Traffic Safety Task Force coordinator, said those features will go well with the state’s intermediate driver’s license rules.
Driving under the influence, speeding and not using a seat belt are the three top reasons young drivers are hurt in accidents, she said.
“We’ve seen accidents be reduced when you can’t turn your music up,” she said.