Ford is helping parents to make their kids belt up and will introduce its exclusive MyKey technology into its European models from next year.

The system, which is already a success in the US, will eventually be provided as standard on compatible Ford vehicles in Europe.

MyKey allows owners to programme a special key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume. MyKey also further encourages safety belt usage, provides earlier low fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at set points between 70-100km/h.

 Peter Patzelt, system architect for the technology, said: “MyKey adds a new dimension to safety by giving drivers standard technology that encourages safer driving and limits their exposure to risk, regardless of age or experience. In particular, MyKey can give parents peace of mind when they hand the keys over to their kids.”

MyKey is working in the US, according to a recent survey by Opinion Matters Market Research. Over half of those who would consider purchasing MyKey also said they would allow their children to use the family vehicle more often if it were equipped with the new technology.

Research suggests that European drivers under the age of 25 are statistically up to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal road accident than experienced drivers, while 58,000 18-24-year-olds were killed in road accidents between 1999 and 2008.

Patzelt said: “Inexperienced drivers are typically the most at-risk drivers on the road. The more we can do to encourage safe driving and limit distraction the better.”

MyKey helps address one of the key causes of accidents among younger drivers – excessive speed.  It’s the cause of 30% of accidents involving young male drivers and 21% of accidents with young female drivers across Europe.

The technology allows owners to limit the vehicle’s top speed to 140km/h and deliver audible and visual speed warnings at a set point between 70-100km/h.

MyKey also includes features that prevents the electronic stability programme from being disabled and mutes the audio system until occupied front seats have their belts fastened.