November 18, 2015
Recent studies and inventions have shown that drunk driving and DUI arrests can be reduced by encouraging drivers to implement certain steps or attitudes.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a non-profit advocacy group formed by mothers whose children were killed in alcohol-fueled crashes, has partnered with Uber, the ridesharing phone application, in combating the prevalence of drunk drivers on the road. The two organizations conducted a survey and study and found that the introduction of Uber into a market decreased alcohol-related accidents by 6.5%. This has also led to a 10% decrease in DUIs in some states. Since the advent of Uber, attitudes on drunk driving have shifted. 78% of individuals surveyed stated they are less likely to drive while drunk if Uber or another ridesharing option is available to get them home, and 93% said they tell their drunk friends to take Uber home in lieu of driving.
Another phone app gives users the power to decide when it is safe for them to drive. Alcohoot is akin to activity trackers like FitBit, except it monitors alcohol content in the breath. The Alcohoot device connects with the smartphone app to allow users to monitor the BAC. Users can track changes in BAC over time and receive alerts when they have dipped below 0.08. That way, users know when it is safe to get behind the wheel and can wait until they reach a BAC of less than 0.08 before driving.
Congress was recently lobbied by the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) regarding new alcohol detection devices. DADSS is comprised of car manufacturers, drunk driving advocates, and regulators. DADSS is currently pushing for widespread installation of alcohol sensors in cars. Two types of sensors are currently being considered. The first is akin to a breathalyzer and requires that the driver breathe into a device, which would then calculate the sobriety level. If the driver is 0.08 or higher (or is above 0.00 if a minor), the car will refuse to start. The second device is touch-based and will detect the presence of alcohol in less than a second with a mere touch of a button by looking for traces of alcohol on the surface of the skin. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already developed a prototype car to demonstrate how the DADSS will work. The NHTSA estimates that with implementation of DADSS, 7,000 less people will be involved in DUI arrests and crashes each year.
Researchers have invented a new laser than can detect BAC in a fraction of a second with no need to pull over a car or even interact with a driver. Often times, drivers are mistaken for driving under the influence when they are merely careless or tired. A laser recently developed by the Military University of Technology in Poland can now determine if a driver is under the influence. With this new laser, the laser and a receiver are installed together, and a simple mirror is placed on the opposite side of the road. The laser then shoots a beam through a vehicle. When a driver is sober, the beam should be reflected by the mirror at full force. However, when alcohol is present, the beam will be weakened because alcohol can absorb some of the beam. This device may be available to police departments within the next year.
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