The Washington Times - October 6, 2008, 11:58AM

Ford Motor Co. today announced a new feature called “MyKey” designed to give parents of teenage drivers some peace of mind.

The technology enables owners to limit a car’s top seed at 80 miles per hour and audio volume at 44 percent of capacity. In addition, MyKey can extend Ford’s existing “Beltminder” system — which provides a six-second reminder every minute for the first five minutes — until the seatbelt is buckled, also muting the audio system during that time.

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MyKey debuts next year as standard on the 2010 Focus coupe, the company said, and “will quickly become standard” on other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

How does it work? Parents use the vehicle message center to program any key. When that key is inserted into the ignition, the system reads the chip and identifies the MyKey code.

Parents can also have the car issue a low-fuel warning earlier than normal, or sound a chime when the driver hits 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour.

Don’t know about you, but I’m sure my parents wish a feature like this existed back when I got my license.