Drinking and driving is a major problem, even with practically unlimited information about the dangers of impaired driving heavily publicized in ads and PSAs across the country. Any rational, sober person knows that drinking and driving can get you (or someone else) killed, thanks to your delayed reaction time, impaired judgment, and skewed perceptions under the influence, but when you’re already impaired, it can be tough to recognize your own impairment or make the decision to get an alternate ride.
Thankfully, a host of new apps have emerged to help occasional drinkers better understand the effects of drinking and driving, recognize when they’ve had too much to drink, and find an easier way to get a ride home. Together, these apps can help prevent drinking and driving and keep you safer as you enjoy your regular nights out:
- DrinkTracker is an app that delivers what its name promises. It’s a breathalyzer simulator that helps you estimate your blood alcohol level (BAL) and determine whether you’re under the legal limit and can drive safely. Using this app throughout the night, you can keep track of how many drinks you’ve had. Combining this data with information such as your age, weight, gender, and the amount of time that has passed, the app gives you an estimated level of sobriety, which you can use to make an informed decision regarding your transport home.
- Available for iPhone and Android devices, EnDUI was designed to help end drinking and driving (in multiple ways). It serves as a kind of toolkit, giving you all the resources necessary to control your drinking habits and find a safe way home if you end up having too much to drink. The app gives you an option to phone a designated driver, call for a cab, or look up facts about blood alcohol levels to determine your ability to independently get home. There’s also an option to report a drunk driver to the police, helping to keep the roads safer.
- Have a Plan. Have a Plan, an app launched by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the NYS STOP-DWI Foundation, helps users understand the risks and facts of drunk driving, and come up with a way home. The app also offers detailed information about the penalties for drunk driving, and like the EnDUI app, a function to report a drunk driver you’ve observed to protect the safety of others.
- Unlike most of the other apps on this list, SaferRide only gives you the bare minimum necessary to ensure a safe trip home. If you’re so heavily inebriated that you aren’t able to operate a motor vehicle, you’re probably too inebriated to be going through complicated menus and reading about the dangers and penalties associated with drunk driving. Accordingly, SaferRide strips those elements away and offers three buttons: Get Taxi, Call a Friend, and Where Am I, all of which are useful in different scenarios.
- The Breathometer app takes the breathalyzer simulator premise of DrinkTracker to a more practical, immediate level. Working in conjunction with an attached breathalyzer device (available for purchase), the app works very similar to a real breathalyzer machine, giving you a measure of your BAL.
A Note on Breathalyzer Accuracy
It’s important to note that although many of these apps offer estimates of your blood alcohol level (BAL), these estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. Even professionally conducted breathalyzer tests can come up with inaccurate or misleading results, especially when improperly used by the operator. Furthermore, a BAL under the legal limit is not a free license to drive; alcohol impairs different people in different ways, and even though your BAL gives you a legal precedent to operate a motor vehicle, your impairment could negatively interfere with your ability to drive. Safety should be your ultimate goal, so if you have even the slightest doubt about your sobriety, find another way home.
These apps should help you understand and prevent drinking and driving in your own life (and the lives of your friends and relatives), but they aren’t a free license to get blitzed on a regular basis. Use them as toolkits, guides, and emergency functions, but don’t abuse them or take their estimates as gospel truth. Instead, use common sense with these apps as a backup, and when it comes to estimating your sobriety, remain conservative. It could save a life.