Alcohol-impaired driving kills 29 people per day and costs US $ 121 billion per year After years of progress in reducing alcohol-impaired driving deaths, efforts began to slow down in 2009 and the number of deaths started to rise again in 2015. Several studies have shown that drinkers cannot accurately estimate their own blood alcohol level, portable breathalyzers, also called breathalyzers, allow people to measure their own blood alcohol level (BrAC) to determine if they are below the legal limit of 0.08% before attempting to drive.
The latest generation of personal alcohol testing devices is associated with smartphones. While some of these devices have been shown to be relatively accurate, others can mislead users into believing they are fit to drive, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The results, published today in Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research, compares the accuracy of six of these devices to that of two validated alcohol consumption tests – blood alcohol level from the venipuncture and a police-grade portable breath testing device.
“All alcohol-impaired driving accidents are preventable tragedies,” says lead investigator Mr. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, assistant professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Penn. “It is common knowledge that you should not drive while intoxicated, but people often do not have or make alternative travel arrangements and find it difficult to judge their fitness to drive after drinking. . Some may use smartphone breathalysers to see if they are over the legal driving time. If these devices lead people to mistakenly believe their blood alcohol levels are low enough to drive safely, they are endangering not only themselves, but everyone on the road or in the car. “
To evaluate these devices, the researchers hired 20 moderate drinkers between the ages of 21 and 39. Participants were given three doses of vodka over 70 minutes in an effort to achieve a maximum blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit of around 0.10%. After each dose, participants’ BrAC was measured using devices paired with a smartphone and a police-grade portable device. After the third dose, their blood was drawn and tested for BAC, the most accurate way to measure alcohol consumption. The researchers also explored the devices’ ability to detect the concentration of alcohol in the breath above the common legal driving limits (0.05% and 0.08%). They used statistical analysis to explore the differences between the measures.
All seven devices underestimated the blood alcohol level by more than 0.01%, although some were consistently more accurate than others. Two devices failed to detect BrAC levels of 0.08% measured by a police-grade device more than half the time. Since the study was completed, one of the devices has been discontinued and no longer sold, and other models have been replaced with newer technology. However, two of the other devices had an accuracy similar to that of a police-grade device. These devices were used to remotely collect precise measurements of alcohol consumption for research purposes. They could also be used to expand contingency management addiction treatment programs that have been shown to help promote abstinence in patients with alcohol use disorders. These programs, which have been shown to be very effective, have traditionally offered prices for in-person breathalyzer measurements. Breathalyzer apps for smartphones allow these programs to be administered remotely, as blood alcohol readings can be verified with automatically captured images of the person’s face, provided that the reading and prize redemption can be automated. .
“While it is always best to plan not to drive after drinking, if the public or drug treatment providers use these devices, some are more accurate than others. Given the benefits that these breathalyzers could be for public health, our results suggest that oversight or regulation would be valuable, ”Delgado concludes.“ Currently, the Food and Drug Administration does not require approval for these devices – which would involve review-based authorization. accuracy of the data – but she should reconsider that position in light of our findings. “
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