Can an App Really Prevent Drunk Driving?

drunk driving app can help keep you safeEvery once in a while you’ll see a roundup of smartphone apps that are designed to “prevent drinking and driving.” Do they work? It all depends on what you consider working. There’s no drunk driving app that can disable your car if you have had too many mojitos. There is a device for that – an ignition interlock – but that’s another story.

Drunk driving apps are available on Android, Apple, and Windows phones. They come in a number of categories, depending on what aspect of impaired driving they are designed to tackle.

  • Tracking your drinking. With apps like Alcodroid (Android) and IntelliDrink (iPhone) you can log your alcohol intake and let the app estimate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). You need to enter your sex, age, and body dimensions, and your smartphone will tell you if you’ve gone over the limit. Some of the apps also let you track your drinking habits over time – not a bad idea.
    Do they work? If you use them. The numbers are estimates at best, and nothing prevents you from learning that you’re too drunk to drive and then getting behind the wheel anyway. One suspects that anyone conscientious enough to track all their drinks is too conscientious to drive drunk, but who knows?
  • Ride Hailing Apps. SaferRide drunk driving appA lot of apps are designed to give you an easy way to summon a ride home if you’re not in shape to get behind the wheel. Examples are rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, and taxi apps such as Hailo (which allows you to pre-book rides) and mytaxi.
    Do they work? If you use them.
  • Breathalyzer apps. A number of apps can be used with breathalyzer devices to measure your BAC: Breathometer, Alcohoot, etc. The idea is you can test yourself while you’re out and about and make the right choice if your blood alcohol concentration is too high.
    Do they work? Depends on the device. The breathalyzer needs to be an accurate, high-quality one, which is an iffy proposition. You’re probably better off with a professional-grade breathalyzer.
  • Lawyer Apps. oh-crap-drunk-driving-appApps like Oh, Crap and Duey Dialer are meant to be of help if you’re pulled over for drunk driving. These apps inform users of their rights, and also can record the proceedings to aid lawyers in the defense.
    Do they work? Sure. They can be of help, but you shouldn’t need them if you’re making good decisions and not drinking and driving. In fact, some people think that lawyer apps encourage drunk driving.

The problem with these apps is that they’re designed to be used mostly at the last moment, when judgment is impaired and good decisions are thin on the ground. A better idea is to plan your ride home before you go out drinking.  Arrange your designated driver or decide on a ride before you tip your first glass.

It’s so easy, there isn’t even an app for it.