Technology, Ability to Communicate Dominate Teen Safe Driving Forum Hosted by Ford Driving Skills for Life


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DEARBORN, MI--June 6, 2014: Ford Motor Company and Ford Driving Skills for Life hosted a unique experience and discussion aimed at educating teens and parents about critical life-saving driving skills

“Teen Safe Driving: The Next 10 Years” addressed challenges facing new teen drivers today, as well as issues and trends expected to shape driving in the future

Implications of technology and the role parents play in educating young drivers dominated discussion at the teen safe driving forum

Technology can contribute to safer situations on the road involving new drivers including teenagers, but parental involvement is key. That’s the main takeaway from a forum held yesterday at Citi Field in Queens, New York, and hosted by Ford Motor Company and Ford Driving Skills for Life.

The event, “Teen Safe Driving: The Next 10 Years,” featured a panel discussion moderated by WABC-TV’s Amy Freeze, among a group of noted panelists who provided their insights on the dangerous trends and challenges teens and other new drivers will face in the coming years.

Panelists included:

Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert® and television host

Lisa Stone, cofounder and CEO, BlogHer

Jonathan Adkins, executive director, Governors Highway Safety Association

Monica Vila, founder and chief technology mom, The Online Mom

Alex Dorado, Driving Skills for Life national tour graduate

Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life

“We know the importance of parental involvement from our work over the last decade, and that won’t change as we look ahead to the next 10 years,” said Ford Driving Skills for Life’s Graham. “The role of technology, as well as coping with impairment that could increase as a result of recently legalized marijuana use in some states, are examples of issues that will need to be addressed in the future.”

Panel insights Panelist Stone shared insights from an informal survey of bloggers and digital influencers in her BlogHer community, a Web network made up of nearly 6,000 members. Included in the findings is a notable shift in parental concerns about letting teens get behind the wheel. “We found that the No. 1 concern for mothers today is no longer the notion of your child being hit and killed by a drunk driver; it’s the idea that they may be injured, or worse, by a distracted driver,” Stone said.

The proliferation of technology, especially wearable technology, also dominated the conversation. Also discussed was the growing addiction to cellphone use.

“There are simply places where using a phone is inappropriate – behind the wheel is definitely one of those places,” stated Adkins, Governors Highway Safety Association. “We need parents to start educating their teens early, and we need teen drivers to turn the phone off, slow down, and keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”

What’s down the road for teen drivers and parents Its clear parents will continue to be involved in teaching their teens how to drive.

“As a parent, you never stop caring for your child, but you need to stay connected to them to educate them – it’s a process that never stops,” said Vila, The Online Mom.

In the same vein, Armstrong expressed excitement about innovations to come, noting “Technology is getting smarter and smarter, but most parents want to know if there’s a ‘silver bullet’ out there to keep their kids safe. There just isn’t an app for that, but there is communication and education.”

Parents also need to continue to stay educated on advancing technology, and to realize their children are already active passengers before they even start driving. “My son recently said, ‘Dad, don’t answer that,’ when my phone rang while I was driving,” Armstrong added. “I thought, ‘Wow, he’s watching my behaviors.’ It’s important to never be the type of driver you don’t want your child becoming.”

As more technology, like geo-fencing apps, become readily available to help monitor teen driving habits, parents also need to be “comfortable being uncomfortable.” “As a parent, we need to be able to have those tough conversations with our kids about what they may encounter on the road,” said Vila. “Things like safe driving pledges can ease parents into those conversations.”

Ford Driving Skills for Life experience Throughout the day panelists, reporters and guests participated in hands-on driving demonstrations with professional driving instructors on a closed course in the Citi Field parking lot. The demonstrations – part of Ford Driving Skills for Life’s regular program – included a vehicle handling course, distracted driving simulations and a drive exercise with vision-altering goggles to simulate impaired driving. A new addition to the program, a reaction timer, allowed participants to compare their braking reaction times when fully alert and engaged to their reaction times when distracted by a task such as texting while driving.

Another demonstration showcased Ford’s drunk driving suit, a wearable tool that simulates the effects of drunk or impaired driving. Two New York state troopers were on hand conducting simulated sobriety tests on volunteers wearing the suit.

Event participants also had the opportunity to hear from Andy Sarkisian, Ford Safety Planning & Strategy manager, who reviewed the latest Ford technologies such as forward collision warning with brake assist, MyKey, driver alert and lane departure warning systems, as well as Blind Spot Information System.

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