The Ford Motor Co. announced recently that beginning next year it will begin rolling out cars with a programmable key that can limit the speed at which it is driven and the volume at which the audio system plays.

It's called MyKey and its purpose is to allow parents to exert some control over their kids' use of the family automobile even when they're not physically present.

When inserted in the ignition, these special keys would instruct the vehicle to start sounding an alarm when speeds exceed 45, 55 or 65 miles per hour, depending on the parent's preference, and to never go above 80.

The smart key could also be programmed to keep the sound system from exceeding a certain decibel level and to chime for as long as the driver's seat belt remains unbuckled.

Sounds like a good idea, And similar technology is already employed to limit what kids watch on TV or where they go on the Internet.

But there's no device that can substitute for proper parental guidance. So when a teen fails to demonstrate the proper amount of care and courtesy behind the wheel, instead of handing over MyKey, the parent might want to offer him or her NoKey instead.

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