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Transportation Technology

Ford To Introduce Restrictive Car Keys For Parents 1224

thesandbender writes "Ford is set to release a management system that will restrict certain aspects of a car's performance based on which key is in the ignition. The speed is limited to 80, you can't turn off traction control, and you can't turn the stereo up to eleven. It's targeted at parents of teenagers and seems like a generally good idea, especially if you get a break on your insurance." The keys will be introduced with the 2010 Focus coupe and will quickly spread to Ford's entire lineup.
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Ford To Introduce Restrictive Car Keys For Parents

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  • by b1ng0 ( 7449 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:23AM (#25281057)

    Do Fords even go up to 80?

  • by wronskyMan ( 676763 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:24AM (#25281061)
    Don't know if an external component speed limiting the Focus to 80 is really necessary anyway.
  • by seringen ( 670743 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:24AM (#25281069)
    would have saved me the humiliation of "racing" my parents' taurus
  • by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:26AM (#25281079)
    as trying to keep porn away from your son.
  • Prior Art? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcmtnbiker ( 925661 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:26AM (#25281083)
    I would have thought that vale key limiting the holder to only accessing ignition and not glove compartment/trunk would be prior art to this. They are both keys that limit access for practical reasons.
  • *sigh*... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:29AM (#25281099)

    That's absurd. If you're old enough to drive, you're old enough to take responsibility for the way you do it. If a parent can't trust her kid to drive responsibly, she shouldn't be letting him drive in the first place.

    While there are a few situations I've been in where the ability to exceed 80 mph has been critical to safety (getting out from behind dangerous drivers on the freeway who are liable to cause a pileup, for instance), that's not the point.

    If you can't trust your kid to drive responsibly, get his ass off the road until you can.

    • Re:*sigh*... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:33AM (#25281135) Homepage Journal

      "While there are a few situations I've been in where the ability to exceed 80 mph has been critical to safety (getting out from behind dangerous drivers on the freeway who are liable to cause a pileup, for instance), that's not the point."

      Is this supposed to be a joke? You're the only one likely be causing any pile ups driving like that. Sheesh.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Entropius ( 188861 )

        Okay, I suppose I have to tell the story then.

        I was driving on the US Interstate, going about 80 mph like everyone else on the road. I normally am quite conservative about following distance, and was happily chugging along behind a couple of trucks when we start to be overtaken by a traffic pack.

        Many of these drivers are safe about passing, but one fellow in a large SUV decides he needs to tailgate trucks at literally three feet, while changing lanes at 75mph, trying to get around them. He passes a few slow

        • Re:*sigh*... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) <slashdot@stefanc[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @01:02AM (#25281409) Homepage Journal

          You drive like this;

          I can either stay behind him and risk being caught in a pileup when he wrecks (not good); slow down to 55mph and cause a traffic hazard for the large pack behind me; or accelerate to 85+mph and pass him.

          And the people behind you saw something like this;

          Many of these drivers are safe about passing, but one fellow in a large SUV decides he needs to tailgate trucks at literally three feet, while changing lanes at 75mph, trying to get around them. He passes a few slow trucks doing this but continues to tailgate and weave around in dense traffic.

          Sound familiar? This is the classic problem with aggressive drivers-- "I'm not a bad driver. That other guy is."

        • Re:*sigh*... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @01:10AM (#25281487) Homepage Journal

          Whoah, serious rationalizations going on there. If you really cared about being safe you'd drop back sufficiently far to be safe. Slowing down to 55 is a silly suggestion. All you have to do is drive the speed limit and leave at least 2 seconds between you and the car in front (if I can achieve this in L.A. you can probably achieve it anywhere). If someone is tailgating just gradually slow down until they pass.

          I was almost in a wreck on the freeway yesterday. Two cars tangled up in the fast lanes and one of them came careening across all the lanes right in front of me and slammed into the sound wall. I got a look at both cars as I went past and they looked destroyed. And this all happened in traffic that was moving no faster than 50 m.p.h. Don't be a jackass. Just slow down.

    • Do you have kids? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:40AM (#25281179)
      Much, perhaps most, dangerous driving by kids is caused by trying to show off to their mates. Limit the speed and power and the vehicle to its baic transport function. No fun trying to do a burn out in a car that refuses to do it.
    • by bornwaysouth ( 1138751 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:50AM (#25281287) Homepage
      You seem to live in a boolean universe. Parents sort of trust their kids to drive responsibly, but know it will vary with who else is in the car. It makes sense to loan a car that they cannot show off in, nor be *encouraged* to drive faster than they have competence. Also, distraction in the car is a problem is well. Slower means more time to react to a threat.

      Stats show that males (prob females too these days) stabilize at safe driving only when over 25. Stupid to only allow them to borrow the car when that old. They need the socialization way before then. Slower accidents may cause injury, but are no where near as likely to be fatal.

      As for needing to drive over 80. Yup, it is remotely possible that that might happen. They also would need a bottle of whiskey in the car to act as medicinal alcohol in case of accidents. Yeah, right.
      • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:59AM (#25281383)

        There's no situation where a teenager needs to drive over 80, probably; that only occurs on the highway, and most parents probably aren't going to let their teenagers drive on the interstate.

        My objection to this isn't so much that it prevents kids from doing things they might need to do for safety, but that someone who does the right thing only because they have no opportunity to do the wrong thing isn't really responsible.

        Just as with alcohol in the USA, you know those kids -- when they finally get unfettered access to their cars -- are going to drive like maniacs and cause all sorts of wrecks.

  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:29AM (#25281109) Homepage

    In Finland, where I live, driving cars is for over 18 year olds only. While an 18-year-old is by no mean (emotionally) an adult, it's still a far cry from 16.

    So, how does it work in the states? I understand 16-year-olds are allowed to drive under some circumstances?

    • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:33AM (#25281137)

      Almost any 16 year old can drive in the states if they take a driver's ed course, get their permit, rack some hours up with another licensed driver, and then take a test.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I find that scary. Then again I live in an area where public transport actually works, might be different in a country planned with the assumption that everyone has a car...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )

          Those are the things you have to deal with when your country grows after the advent of the automobile, and not before. (You could also argue that the problem is both social and civic engineering in nature, but that's a topic for another occasion).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kazlor ( 1020030 )
      It differs depending on which state you live in. Some states allow for teenagers at 14 or 15 to get their learner's permit (which by law, you are required to have someone of a certain age (21 or 25, depending) in the vehicle with you while you drive). Others are at 16, but also require the permit. After a probationary period, or they turn 18, they can get their license. I'm not certain which states are which, I know California requires you to be 16. I know when I was that age, I was afraid to drive, and I
  • by Shadukar ( 102027 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:35AM (#25281147)

    Anyone else get the feeling that this is a really cheap/pointless marketing BS that isn't actually meant to really accomplish anything ?

    80miles per hour is plenty fast to kill a lot of people... yup, awesome safety feature right there. Wait, let's go for double the safety, 40miles per hour...hrm, can still kill plenty of people ...and you're prolly endangering others by driving too slow in areas where you're supposed to drive fast.

    so pretty much ...pointless/useless equivalent of "security theater" ?

    But wait, let's look at it from the direction this system oppresses kids/curtails their "freedoms" instead. Yeah, stick it to the man! (mum) fucking nazis making you do the dishes and not let you drive over 80.

  • by uber-human ( 842562 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:38AM (#25281163)
    Why haven't people realized that this kind of thing isn't compatible with the way teenagers think? When you restrict them like this, you're basically telling them that they aren't trusted. I don't care whether or not that's true, but that's how it will be interpreted by them. They're going to push against the restrictions, especially when so many of their friends don't have to put up with the same limitations. This is no substitute for teaching teens to be responsible drivers. Letting them know that you trust them and allowing them to use their own judgment is a huge step towards them becoming more mature and responsible. Chances are they'll probably have more respect for their parents and the vehicle itself. But yeah, if they screw that trust over this seems like a pretty good punishment. I just hope no parents enable these features on their poor children by default.
  • by inzy ( 1095415 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:38AM (#25281167)

    so, why do the parents need to drive over 80, turn off traction control, and turn the stereo up to 11? they all seem like pretty bad ideas whoever is driving the car?

  • by jonesy2k ( 934862 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:40AM (#25281177) Homepage
    Would be a car that logged exactly where it went and at what speed, automatically uploading it to a PC in your house. I don't think kids would be anywhere near as reckless knowing that their parents would see exactly how they'd been driving.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )

      Already done. You can get modules that plug into the OBDII port (or CANBUS on the latest cars) that record every piece of info every couple of seconds, after which it can be uploaded via USB.

  • Is 80 even legal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:42AM (#25281201) Homepage
    Is 80 MPH legal anywhere in the USA?
  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:44AM (#25281239)

    I don't see how limiting speed to 80 is very useful at all. That's already extremely fast. For you metric folk:

    80 miles per hour = 128.74752 kilometers per hour

    Not only that, but some of the most dangerous driving happens in much slower speed zones, for example residential areas, or around schools. How is this going to stop drivers from ploughing over children at 40 mph?

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:44AM (#25281241) Homepage Journal

    GM already did that in a car where cutting back the car's performance makes a difference - a
    "valet" key limited the 1990-1995 ZR-1 Corvette to 225bhp or so, by shutting off the secondary intake runners and secondary fuel injectors.

    Who's going to notice the difference in a Ford Focus? Limited power or not, 0 to 60 still takes about eight weeks. Traction control? Can a Focus actually break traction on dry ground?

  • by Hans Lehmann ( 571625 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @12:46AM (#25281253)
    Initially you'll get a break on you auto insurance if you opt in to this feature. After a little while, of course, you'll pay an additional fee if you *don't* take this feature. After all, only reckless drivers wouldn't want to be limited in their maximum speed, right? Once enough car owners "opt-in" to this feature, it will become mandatory in all cars sold in the USA, along with your mileage tracking GPS black-box, which was also sold in the beginning as something that would give you a break on your insurance, or "for the children", or some other B.S.

    Tell me something. With all the safety features that have been added to cars in the last 30 years or so, from seat belts to air bags, all peddled as something that would keep our insurance rates from going up, how come everyone's auto insurance keeps going up, *never* down.

    • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @01:23AM (#25281593)

      I am an actuarial analyst for a major property and casualty insurer in the US.

      Insurance rates tend to trend upward because inflation, loss costs, and adjustment/expense costs trend upward. Despite popular belief, they do not trend upward because of the profit contingency loading, and this is due to the fact that personal insurance is a very highly regulated industry in the US. If my company simply decided to increase our loading by even 0.5%, you can be assured that every state Dept. of Insurance would write back immediately, asking why we feel justified raising profit loading by that amount, right before they deny our filings.

      In layman's terms, loss costs increase because the value of insured properties such as autos and homes tend to increase. What I mean by this is not depreciation, or the decline in value of a single purchased asset, but rather the idea that the average paid value of assets or services rendered increases over time, due to inflation or technological improvements. Health care 10 years ago did not cost what it does today. Cars didn't cost what they do today. And so forth.

      Loss adjustment expenses also increase in coordination with inflation and the cost of doing business.

      It is also in part because more people survive accidents that the cost of insurance goes up. More survivors = more injured = higher medical payments. Similarly, more technology = higher repair cost. There is also a loose correlation in that safer vehicles tend to lead to less safe driving habits.

      I understand that the average consumer is naive about the nature of insurance. If the public truly wishes to decrease their premiums, then in roughly decreasing order of importance, (1) drive less, (2) drive slower and more carefully, (3) don't buy SUVs or large vehicles. Of course, this only applies to the population as a whole. As an individual insured, your exposure as determined by your insurer has to do with your age, gender, location, credit history (where permitted), type and age of vehicle, and driving record, among other variables. The extent to which a group of insureds incurs greater losses is the extent to which those people pay higher premiums. That is the principle upon which actuarial ratemaking is founded, and if the public is unhappy with how much it costs to insure their assets, then stop having so much loss. After all, do you think insurers actually want to increase rates on their policyholders? They don't, because there is so much competitive pressure to keep rates low, for fear of losing business. In fact, if an insurer files a rate change significantly lower than their indicated rate need, that is a red flag to the DOI, because it raises the possibility of insolvency risk.

      If you think insurance is a scam, tell that to the people whose entire earthly possessions were wiped out in Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, or the California wildfires. On the one hand, they'll tell you how insurance saved them, but on the other hand, if you don't live in a risk-prone state, you'll wonder why these people thought living on an island right along Hurricane Alley would be a good idea, and why you should be asked to partially subsidize their choice.

  • Not a solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bjorniac ( 836863 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @01:37AM (#25281687)

    Most accidents involving teens aren't 80mph freeway crashes - they're taking slower roads too fast. I was in a wreck (car written off, I walked away with bruises) with a friend driving - he tried to take a roundabout at 50 instead of 30 on a wet night. The problem isn't a function of power, speed or traction - it's recklessness. Trust me - I was in a freaking Metro when it happened. Limiting the speed to 80 just means that kids will get their kicks driving 60 in a 30 zone or something similar.

  • by Orlando ( 12257 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @03:46AM (#25282489) Homepage

    Alternatively parents could try having a mature and trusting relationship with their teenage children...

  • Won't help much (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Tuesday October 07, 2008 @04:35AM (#25282799)

    1. Most accidents don't happen on motorways (the only place where speeds of >80 mph would be likely). You'd have to have location-dependent speed limits to make significant inroads. This is already being done, the new Nissan GT-R has (in the Japanese version) a 120 mph speed limiter which is swiched off automatically when you're on a racetrack; it uses GPS to decide where you are. IMO, this is a nightmare scenario. It reduces the driver's freedom even more, and encourages people to just drive at the governed limit blindly, instead of paying attention to circumstances. The lack of dynamics in the traffic around you (everyone going at the same speed) lulls you into a false sense of security (see below).

    A governed limit means there'll be small differences in speed due to calibration errors, etc, which means people will be overtaking with 1 mph speed difference all the time. In Europe, trucks already have a speed limiter, and as a result you get huge tailbacks behind two trucks going 50+/-1 mph side-by-side. To prevent this, you'd have to mandate radar-guided cruise control as well, and before you know it fully autonomous vehicles are mandatory.

    2. Most accidents aren't caused by speeding, but by not paying attention. This means that having a speed limiter won't have much effect, and due to the false sense of security it provides, may increase the number of incidents.

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