Kids get bored in the backseat. But instead of suffering through an often fight-inducing game of "Slug Bug," or anesthetizing them with a tablet movie, what if you could teach them how to make you a better driver?
We can tell you're into that.
That's the improbable, possibly even sadistic idea behind "Mr. Bear Driver," a road safety game by Publicis Romania, created alongside the Automobile Club of Romania and the International Automobile Federation (FIA), for the 2015-16 "Junior Copilot" program.
Available for free on Google Play and the App Store, the animated jaunt teaches kids about traffic rules. When played in a moving vehicle, the game—which is equipped with GPS—directly responds to the speed of the actual car the player is riding in. Mr. Bear Driver tells kids when their parents are exceeding the speed limit, incentivizing them to ask them to slow down.
It's unclear whether the game accounts for that loose "10 miles over is still safe" guideline. For schadenfreude's sake, let's assume no.
If the driver doesn't comply, the child loses points. In extreme circumstances, the game will even end, resulting in a tantrum risk so severe that you probably don't want to go there.
Pre-iPad, the elementary schools we attended did try teaching us about road safety, with perhaps similarly maddening results. We were told it was "bad to drink and drive," without any specificity on what drinks they meant. The result was that I spent endless road trips crying out every time my dad lifted a Coke to his mouth.
My parents still remember this, and not fondly. On the cheery up, they no longer dare to drink anything behind the wheel.
Most parents are probably pretty mindful of the risks they take when on the road with tiny humans, but they can't be vigilant all the time ... as AT&T so masterfully taught us recently. It's a neat idea to gameify the notion of making kids participants in the act of keeping them safe, with extra points for increasing their awareness of what's happening offscreen.
So, if Mr. Bear Driver lasts longer than a season, we'd really like a software update that includes massive point losses for what our progenitors call "Hollywood stops." We'd play that game with them right now.
More images appear below.