The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers some grim statistics on crashes from alcohol-impaired drivers:
- In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the U.S.
- Those fatalities accounted for 31% of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities
- The number of fatalities from drunk driving crashes increased 4.6% from 2011 to 2012
It's a problem year-round, but drunk driving gets extra attention during the holidays. Police departments put more officers on patrol and designated driver campaigns hit the airwaves. But smartphone apps may help too. Here's a look at four free ones supported by public agencies or anti-drunk driving organizations.
ENDUI is a new app promoted by the state of Maryland to educate people about making good choices when drinking. Users enter information, such as gender and weight, and how many alcoholic drinks they’ve consumed and in what timeframe. The app estimates the user's blood alcohol content. It also has games to help them gauge their response times. There are also buttons for calling a designated driver or cab and another for reporting drunk drivers.
Have A Plan is an app promoted by STOP-DWI organizations. It includes an impairment estimator, a GPS feature to help users find taxi services near them, and for the "have a plan" piece of it, users enter names of people they can call for a safe ride home when they are too impaired to drivae. There's also an interactive section of the app with four skill assessments that test a user's mobility, reaction time, memory and accuracy.
DuiCam is designed to empower people who report drunk drivers. Users can place their smartphone in a dashboard mount and when they see someone ahead of them that they suspect is driving while intoxicated, DuiCam can scan the make/model of the car and zoom in on the license plate. Once they save a screenshot or video they can send it via email or text to authorities and call it in as well. The app was programmed by Daniel de Haas and supported by a National Science Foundation grant.
Drive Sober supports the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Zero in Wisconsin – Drive Sober campaign. The mobile app was developed to assist individuals who may have had too much to drink find a safe ride home other than driving. It also provides interactive information on the dangers of impaired driving. The app comes in a variety of languages.
Amy Enbysk is a 20-something writer/blogger living in Portland, Oregon.