WILTON, Conn. — Brian Griffin was driving to a funeral early one morning when he started to think about the fragility of life.
The Wilton man's thoughts turned to his teenage kids, who were about start driving. Knowing how even the best people can be tempted to drink and drive, Griffin wanted to make sure his children would never get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
“My worst fear was having one of my kids drink and drive and either take their life or a friend’s,” Griffin said. “So I started saying, ‘All right, well, I need a solution here.’”
But Griffin couldn’t find the right technology to stop drunken driving. So he founded Wilton-based GuardRide.
The company's product is a system that pairs a BACtrack Mobile breathalyzer, an iPhone and facial recognition software to perform a 30-second test for young drivers before they get behind the wheel.
And if a driver fails the test? Their parent gets a notification so they can take action.
The system includes two iPhone apps — one for parents and one for young drivers. When a parent wishes to set up a test, he or she makes a request on the parent — “guardian” — app that their child has to accept.
The system also includes an optional “key guard” that physically prevents a young driver from putting a key into the ignition unless the driver passes a test.
The key guard provides a physical barrier on a traditional key, while the software can jam the signal of keyless fob.
But most young drivers won’t need this additional feature, Griffin said.
“I envision that 80 [percent] to 85 percent of the kids that will be on the GuardRide system will not probably utilize the key guard,” he said. “My thought is that most kids if they know they’re being monitored and they can’t get away without getting caught, they’re not going to take that chance because the consequences are too great from the parents.”
Griffin said the app will launch Aug. 22 on the App Store. He’s already beta-tested it and said the system has been well-received by parents and kids alike.
The system gives parents peace of mind and gives young drivers independence.
“They know that they don’t have to keep checking in…because the parents feel comfortable that they’re doing the right thing, and they’re safe,” Griffin said.
For more information on the system, visit the GuardRide site here .