Drink Driving: In The Future, Your Phone May Be Able To Stop You

Drink driving is a persistent problem for many countries, with a range of solutions being proposed. Now, however, scientists are looking to smartphones for answers…

Smartphones and Drink Driving 

Could our smartphones hold the answer to drink driving? According to American researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the sensors in our phones can be used to determine when a person is intoxicated – with high levels of accuracy. All that’s required is for the subject to walk ten steps. As a result, the technology could be used to issue warnings when a person is over the legal limit.

The research involved 22 participants, aged between 21 and 43. They were provided with a vodka and lime drink each hour; until they reached 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. With smartphones attached to their backs, the participants were asked to walk ten steps, in a straight line, at two hour intervals; turning back once they’d reached the end. At approximately 90% of the time, the researchers were able to identify those amongst them who were over the limited by recognising their gaits. Whilst the research is only preliminary, it’s hoped more applications (like when a phone is held) and even greater accuracy will be achieved.

Digital Interventions 

For Brian Suffoletto, one of the researchers working on the project, tackling drink driving is personal. He said, “we have powerful sensors we carry around with us wherever we go. We need to learn how to use them to best serve public health. I lost a close friend to a drinking and driving crash in college”. He added, “as an emergency physician, I have taken care of scores of adults with injuries related to acute alcohol intoxication”.

Professor Daniel Dresner, a cyber security expert at the University of Manchester, has spoken on the potential applications of the research on a long-term basis. He speculated, “there is no limit as to the ingenuity of the uses that data can be put to or misused but, it’s important to remember how this science may be adapted in future. Could it connect to the car immobiliser so it won’t let you drive? Will it alert a friend, or the authorities, if you shouldn’t be driving?”

In the UK, a staggering 80,000 people are convicted for drink-driving each year; with over 600 people being killed, and over 3,000 being seriously injured, annually. The question has to be asked, however, how many offenders were really unaware of their own intoxication and the risks that come with it. Would, in the end, a pop-up message on their phone have made a difference? For the researchers at Pittsburgh, there’s only one way to find out…

Drug-Driving Convictions Have Quadrupled In Two Years – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/drug-driving-convictions-have-quadrupled-in-two-years/

Car Gadgets: Five You Should Always Have In Your Car – https://autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/car-gadgets-five-you-should-always-have-in-your-car/

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