How Technology Helps Prevent Drunk Driving

In 2013, a drunk driving fatality occurred every 52 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although programs such as MADD and statewide initiatives have cut teen drinking and driving by more than 50 percent in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are still plenty of drunk drivers on the road. But luckily, as technology is rapidly advancing, we can turn to technological advancements to help prevent drunk driving.

Prevention Apps

There are a variety of apps available that help prevent drinking and driving in various ways. Here are two types that are available for the iPhone:

  • Ridesharing: Gone are the days of having to remember a taxi company's number and not knowing when your cab would arrive. Now, with ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, you don't have to worry about looking up a number or if you have enough cash on you to pay for your ride. With these services, you put your credit card information into the app and it automatically charges you when your ride is over. Furthermore, it uses your device's GPS to determine your approximate location and shows you a map with nearby drivers. As an added bonus, you can see your driver's overall satisfaction rating and can even reject them if you like.
  • Breathalyzers: Apps like the Breathometer Breeze transform your phone into a breathalyzer so you can track your blood alcohol content. Then, based on your results, the app helps you make informed, dependable decisions such as being able to request an Uber or a cab directly from the application, finding a hotel or even finding food nearby.

In-Car Technology

Many car manufacturers also are incorporating new technology to help prevent drinking and driving. For example, Nissan is developing the following detection technology:

  • Alcohol Odor Sensors: One type of sensor will be placed in the shifting knob and will be able to detect the presence of alcohol content from the perspiration on the driver's palms. If it's above the pre-determined limit, the transmission will lock and the car will be rendered immobile. And another set of sensors will be incorporated within the driver's and passenger's seats to detect the presence of alcohol in the air. If the alcohol detected is above the determined limit, the car will issue a notification and a voice alert.
  • Facial Monitoring: For this technology, a camera will be placed in the instrument cluster in front of the driver and will be able to detect the driver's state of consciousness. In addition to preventing drunk driving, this tool will also help prevent drowsy driving.
  • Driving Behavior: This tool constantly monitors the driver to check for signs of inattentiveness, such as weaving in and out of lanes. If the system detects any of these signs, an alert will sound and the seat belt mechanism will tighten in order to grab your attention.

Overall, the best prevention is not drinking if you will be driving that night. Don't rely on blood alcohol content estimations or breathalyzers to determine whether or not you should drive. Be safe and stay off the roads.