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Breath test phone apps: Will they prevent drunk driving crashes?

"There is an app for that," is a marketing slogan that is true for just about any situation. There are cellphone applications that can track budgets, help us lose weight, keep us from getting lost, etc. There are cellphone apps that can tell us whether we are too drunk to drive. What do you think about that idea?

Last month, Reuters reported that this month, a business would be making its breath test cellphone app widely available to consumers with iPhones or Android phones. For less than $50, people can get a device to connect to their phone that will supposedly evaluate whether they are fit to drive after a night on the town. 

Would you trust the technology? The public should have more concern over this cellphone app than others because of the potential safety consequences it might have. For example, what if someone buys and uses the personal breath test app but the technology doesn't work or isn't used correctly? Should the public be afraid of the risk that a drunk driver whose app told him he was under the limit might be on the roads?

There is also the risk of drivers not understanding that the legal limit might not be all to consider. Even though the limit is 0.08 in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, individuals' limits of impairment differ significantly. A driver, whether he or she is within the legal limit or not, can still be impaired enough to cause a drunk driving accident.

Even the creators of the phone app suggest that users not drive if the device detects alcohol in their systems. There is even an option within the app for the users to order a taxi if they want to make the safest choice of transportation after consuming alcohol.

Victims who are injured or who lose someone to an impaired driver won't care whether an app told the driver that he was good to drive. They will care that justice is served and that a reckless driver is held accountable for the decisions he's made.

Source: Reuters, "Feeling tipsy? New apps read blood alcohol levels, hail a taxi," Natasha Baker, Sep. 16, 2013

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