DEARBORN, MI --- Ford Motor Co.'s MyKey teen-safety driving technology topped the American Automobile Association's (AAA) top technology picks for new vehicles and earned the 2009 Traffic Safety Achievement Award from a panel of judges at the New York International Auto Show's World Traffic Safety Symposium. 

MyKey, which soon will become standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle's top speed and audio volume. The new technology also can completely mute the audio system if front occupants are not belted. The feature is designed to help parents encourage their teen-agers to drive safer and more fuel efficiently, and increase safety belt usage. 

"The 2009 World Traffic Safety Symposium is tackling the issue of safer teen driving," said Mark Schienberg, president of the New York International Auto Show. "As Ford's new MyKey safety technology will help encourage teens to drive safer and use their seat belts, we're proud to present Ford with this award." 

The same group previously honored Ford's Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program -- which teaches teens advanced driving skills -- with the 2007 Traffic Safety Achievement Award for Community Service. Two years earlier, the symposium honored Ford for its VIRTTEX driving simulator, which has been used for safety research including an extensive teen study earlier this decade. 

The judges represented the U.S. Department. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Automobile Association of America Foundation for Traffic Safety, National Road Safety Foundation and New York Police Department Traffic Safety Division. 

MyKey can help promote safer driving, particularly among teens, by encouraging safety belt use, limiting speed and reducing distractions. In addition to the more aggressive belt monitor with audio mute as well as top speed and audio volume limits, MyKey provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 miles per hour to encourage driving within posted speed limits. 

According to NHTSA, teens are more likely to take risks such as speeding -- a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes -- and less likely to wear safety belts than older drivers.