If you could see the world through Vince Young’s eyes, you’d probably want to rewind to that storied drive down the field in 2006 when he clinched the national championship.
But, for most of us, that wouldn’t be the most valuable lesson to learn from the Longhorn legend and former NFL quarterback. Instead, you’d likely learn more from Young’s experience on an otherwise normal Sunday night of watching playoff football games with friends.
It was on such a night last January when Young, who was driving a couple intoxicated friends home, was pulled over in his white pickup and arrested for driving under the influence, for which he later pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 18 months probation.
“Even though I made a bad decision, I learned a lot out of the situation.” – Vince Young
Young immediately told fans via Facebook he was disappointed in himself. But now he’s leveraging his experience in a much bigger way. He’s partnering with Aceable, the drivers education tech startup, on an anti-drunk driving campaign leading into the holiday season.
“A lot of people don’t understand I don’t mind telling my story,” Young told me. “I really feel like it helps people.”
Young said that since his arrest, he has taken classes and heard the first-hand stories of people dealing with the consequences of drunk driving.
“They may have lost someone in their family,” he said. “It’s very touching, and they’re very serious stories. If people knew or saw these stories, they’d make a better decision about getting behind that wheel. It really hit home with me.”
The campaign with Aceable, called “Keep the Drive Alive,” includes a short PSA video in which Young talks about people deserving to have fun and party during the holidays. But he urges them to order a ride-hailing service or find a sober ride so they don’t hurt someone or themselves. It will be broadcast online and over Aceable’s and Young’s social media accounts.
“Even though I made a bad decision, I learned a lot out of the situation,” he said.
Young and Aceable Founder and CEO Blake Garrett met about a year ago through a mutual friend. Soon, they started talking about how Young’s experience — and his name recognition — could encourage fellow Texans to find a safe ride home instead of making a costly, even deadly, mistake.
In addition to the PSA, Young shot a guest appearance video for Aceable’s driving courses in which he talks about his experience. That’s featured in Aceable’s new defensive driving offering.
“I think most people that make mistakes just want to bury them and not talk about them,” Garrett told me.
A lot of people think they’re savvy enough to not get caught, but Young’s arrest goes to show how it can happen to anyone — and Young is a powerful voice to share that story, Garrett said.
About every 20 minutes, someone in Texas is hurt or killed in a car wreck involving alcohol. Garrett said that since Aceable is focused on improving driver education and helping both young drivers and those going through defensive driving become safer on the road, partnering with Young in Texas made sense.
“We have a problem in this state,” Garrett said. “It’s really easy to make the mistake of thinking you’re OK to drive. Lots of people do. But we want to drive home that there are lot of options… it’s really inexcusable.”