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This Mobile App Could Test Driver Impairment

This Mobile App Could Test Driver Impairment

When the police ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, it’s usually already too late. The damage — sometimes property damage, sometimes injury or loss of life — has already been done. But what if there were a way you could tell if you were impaired before you got behind the wheel? Well, there’s an app for that.

DRUID is one of a recent (and ever-growing) crop of phone-based applications that allow drivers to measure their level of impairment before they turn the key.

How It Works

DRUID, which was specifically formulated to measure impairment from marijuana, asks users to complete a series of cognitive and physical tasks while sober to establish a baseline performance score. Reaction time, decision making, hand-eye coordination, balance and time estimation are measured while the user’s attention is divided.

This score is then compared to the user’s score when performing these same tasks when they are not sober. The change in score between the baseline sober score and not-sober score is meant to indicate the level of impairment.

A New Kind of Impairment Test

Performance-based impairment tests like DRUID may very well represent the future of impaired-driver screening. Police have used the same kinds of tests for decades to detect alcohol impairment: field sobriety tests, Breathalyzers and BAC (blood alcohol content) tests. And while these tests do a very good job of detecting alcohol use, they are not so good at detecting the other kinds of driver impairment of which our society has become more aware.

Distracted driving, driving while under the influence of drugs and driving while fatigued pose threats to public safety similar to those of alcohol-impaired driving. As a society, we need new and better tests (both self- and law-enforcement-administered) to detect these kinds of impaired driving.

Particularly problematic is the lack of effective testing for drug-impaired driving, which is an increasingly critical issue for Texans. The statistics tell an alarming story. According to a database maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 4,973 motor vehicle crashes in Texas involving drugs in 2016, which is an 18% increase from crashes involving drugs in 2010.

And yet, even given the increase in drug-impaired driving accidents, there has been no straightforward way to test for drug impairment because:

  • There are literally hundreds of drugs that can impair drivers. It can be difficult – if not impossible – to know which drugs to test for.
  • Some drugs that impair driving are illegal to use, some are legal and some are legal only under certain circumstances. The many shades of legality of drug use makes it difficult to write and enforce effective anti-drugged driving statutes.
  • For many drugs, the relationship between the amount of a substance in a driver’s system and its relationship to impairment is poorly understood, so how much is too much?

Hope for a Safer Future

DRUID and apps like it are self-administered and thus by themselves are only part of the solution. But they do offer hope that we can find better ways to improve our performance behind the wheel.

If you have been injured in a traffic accident and believe an impaired driver is to blame, contact one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. The Evans Law Firm has years of experience representing vehicle crash victims, including victims of impaired drivers. Call today at (855) 414-1012 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free case consultation.

Attorney Chip Evans

Austin Attorney Chip EvansChip Evans is a partner at Evans & Herlihy. Chip brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing Plaintiffs. It is the desire to help individuals, not corporations, that attracts Chip to this side of the docket. [ Attorney Bio ]