College Kids and Drunk Driving

I’ve often blogged about my relationship with Ford and how having them as a sponsor for my annual blogging conference has also provided me with some pretty cool and unique opportunities. One of those just happened again this past week, when my college-aged son Jackson and his girlfriend Zoe were home on Spring Break.

Any parent of a teen can express how your worries change over the years. Even before he was born, Jackson was causing his dad and me many sleepless nights: is he developing like he should? Does he have a hairlip? Will he be born healthy and normal? And the worries just multiply from there!

Parenting Troubles

Now that Jackson’s in college, the worries have transformed into whether he will make wise decisions since he’s off on his own. Will he go to class? Does he watch his bank balance? Is he getting enough sleep? Will he try to meet the challenge of that beer bong in the corner of the frat house?

Um… yeah.

And before passing out drunk (and possibly asphyxiating on his own vomit), might he try to drive himself home or get in the car with another driver who’s been drinking? This is the worry that every parent of a college student experiences from time to time. 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol.

If only I could get Jackson to Facetime me every night when he got safely in, I know I would sleep infinitely better, but somehow I don’t think he’d go for it. Plus I remind myself that I went to school when a serial killer rampaged Gainesville and my parents somehow survived it without me even having a cell phone!

Education is the Answer

So, I’ve determined the best I can do is simply educate my son on the dangers of drinking and driving, and thankfully Ford has provided an easy way for me to do this with their “drunk driving suit” that replicates the sluggish reactions when the body is intoxicated.

Drunk Driving Suit

I got to try the suit firsthand two years ago and was amazed at how accurately it confuses the senses:

drunk suit

So, when Ford let me borrow the suit for the day, I was excited to have Jackson and Zoe try it on and see just how much alcohol can affect their reactions:

Addressing Parental Concerns

Another thing my relationship with Ford has taught me is the emphasis the auto company places on its drivers and their needs: safety, comfort, entertainment, and, perhaps even more important, peace of mind.

The amount of research they do on their drivers’ behaviors is amazing, plus the fact that they pay attention to this research and design their cars and corporate culture around it.

Their research into driver distraction (think texting, dancing to music, joking around with friends) shows that 10% of all drivers at anytime are in fact using their smartphone instead of paying attention to the road.

Ford recognizes that drivers will in fact use cell phones and music players while driving, and that text messaging will continue to increase in popularity. Text messaging is a particular concern, as it requires significant time looking away from the roadway to do it. Ford’s SYNC system addresses this concern as well: when a text message arrives, it does not display that message but instead reads it aloud through text-to-speech technology. In addition, SYNC allows the driver to potentially respond via speech-to-text rather than manually keying-in a reply.

Add in the fact that 75% of Ford’s vehicles earned IIHS Top Safety Picks (more than any other automotive company!) and Ford’s new pre-collision technology and the car company is truly addressing my concerns as a parent of a teenage driver.

You haven’t heard about Ford’s pre-collision technology yet? It is being rolled out to their new cars and includes a speed limiter setting, adaptive cruise control that allows you to set the minimal following distance from the car in front of you, a lane-keeping system and blind spot warning, plus front collision warning and brake assist for when you can’t stop in time on your own.

Ideally my son would never need any of these technologies, but I am thankful Ford is already developing ways to make cars safer than ever.

Driving Skills for Life Tour

If you are interested in your children trying the drunk driving suit or even Ford’s new drugged driving suit, be sure to check out Ford’s Skills for Life Tour. It’s an excellent opportunity for your kids to experience such dangerous events in a safe environment.