Technological advances are putting the power to stop drunk driving accidents into the hands of the drivers themselves. By coupling smartphone technology with personal breathalyzers, it may be possible to significantly reduce the rates of drunk driving across the country. Costing roughly $100, these personal breathalyzers have the potential to save many lives and protect drivers from costly DUI convictions.
Police Tech in Personal Hands
The BacTrack Mobile Pro is the first of potentially many similar solutions that utilize police grade breathalyzers connected via smartphones to estimate a driver’s BAC. The device is simple to use and requires users to blow into it at which point the device estimates the driver’s BAC and how long it will take for their BAC to drop below the legal limits. If a driver chooses, the app connected to the device can call an Uber or taxi to take them home. This makes it easier for drivers to determine when it is safe for them to operate their vehicle and can help them avoid the arrests, automobile accidents, increases in insurance premiums, and other problems that a DUI can cause.
Police Respond Positively
In August 2017, police in Colorado distributed 475 of the devices to convicted DUI offenders. 90% of those who received the devices stated that the breathalyzers helped them make better, more informed decisions about driving after drinking. Most importantly, users said it helped clear the air between “how they feel,” and “how impaired they really are.” This is a significant point as many drunk drivers have considerable difficulty gauging how impaired they are when they get behind the wheel. With repeated use, the CDOT study showed that drivers were better able to estimate whether it was safe for them to drive.
The Pitfalls and Perils of Technology
The theory behind BacTrack and other similar devices is sound, but it’s still susceptible to user error, lost WiFi signals, and technological faults. Thus, while these devices may help reduce the potential for a DUI accident, they won’t eliminate it completely. Moreover, drivers may choose to ignore the warnings issued by the device and choose to drive anyway.