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Boston University professor develops app to detect alcohol intoxication

Published On: 10-04-2017 in Category: addiction

A research group from the Boston University School of Public Health (SPH) recently received a grant of around $320,000 to test a phone application that estimates the user’s level of intoxication. The grant was offered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in September 2017.

According to a report, SPH professor Michael Stein and his team will utilize the fund to further develop the app, AlcoGait, “which monitors an individual’s speed and balance by using accelerometer software.” Quoting Stein, the report says that with the feature already available on most smartphones, the data is transmitted to a computer for an analysis of the user’s motion to ascertain drunkenness.

By improving the app, the researchers aim to “predict changes in a user’s alcohol blood level by sensing unusual movements.” “If the phone app can detect drunkenness when you walk, it also can alert you that you shouldn’t be driving and that you’re at risk for falling, injuring yourself or doing other risky behaviors,” Stein says.

DUI-related crashes on the rise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 Americans die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals over $44 billion. Binge or heavy drinkers are generally known to be the cause of most fatal cases of alcohol-impaired driving.

According to the legally defined limit, driving under the influence (DUI) is an offense with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher. But, that might not be applicable to all. Some drivers might not be able to divide their attention and perform two tasks at the same time even at a BAC level of 0.02 percent. Whereas, there could be many individuals whose coordination, reaction time and ability to track moving objects may diminish at a BAC level of 0.05 percent.

Irrespective of the BAC level, DUI is not only dangerous to the driver, but also endangers the lives of everyone on the road. It is a fact that repeat offenders are slapped with one-third of all DUI convictions, indicating that such individuals are addicted to alcohol. The truth is that those who repeatedly drive under the influence are probably unaware that they have a drinking problem.

Authorities should strive to rein in the rising cases of DUI in the country. Effective time-tested strategies to curb drunk-driving are:

  • Zero tolerance laws: Strict enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years and the maximum legal BAC level of 0.08 percent.
  • Checkpoints to ascertain sobriety levels: Enabling police to stop vehicles and conduct breath tests on drivers at designated points.
  • Installing ignition interlocks: Mandating interlocks for all DUI offenders will ensure a significant impact.
  • Media campaigns to spread awareness: They go a long way in reminding people of the fatal consequences of DUI.
  • Laws to revoke or suspend licenses: Police should be empowered to use such laws at their discretion to prevent future DUI incidents.

Battling menace of alcoholism

When inserting the keys in the ignition and driving after a few shots, you are not only risking your life, but the lives of all those you come across on the road. If you or your loved one is battling addiction to alcohol or any other substance, seek treatment immediately. The Boston Drug Treatment and Rehab Center can help you get one of the best addiction treatment programs and embrace sobriety. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 857-254-1818 for more information on different treatment options in your vicinity.

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