If drivers could track their own blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, would they stay off the road when they knew they were over the legal limit?
That was the central question of a new study conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and technology company BACtrack. Now, the agency is announcing that the first-of-its-kind study is indicating that a significant portion of drivers is willing to police themselves and keep our roads safer.
How the Study Worked
From a pool of 1,500 Colorado applicants, CDOT selected 225 participants to use the BACtrack Mobile breathalyzer over the course of the summer. Participants filled out an initial survey detailing their drinking and driving habits and then monitored their own blood alcohol levels with the BACtrack Mobile breathalyzer for several months. At the end of the study, the participants filled out a final survey on their summer drinking and driving habits, as well.
In the initial survey, 79% of the participants admitted that they might have driven a car while drunk (over Colorado's legal BAC limit of 0.08%). That number is troubling, but after the summer of using a personal breathalyzer, only 12% of the participants indicated that they may have driven while drunk when they had access to the personal breathalyzers.
The study also offered other important insights into Colorado's driving population. For instance, only 47% of the participants were aware of the Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) 0.05% BAC limit, which can also result in legal consequences. Of the nearly 5,000 BAC readings recorded by the personal breathalyzers over the summer, the average BAC reading was 0.087%, as well.
After completing the study, most participants believed that more drivers should have access to personal breathalyzers: 82% said that anyone who drinks regularly should have access to one and 84% said that owning a personal breathalyzer decreases the risk of drunk driving.
While some of the statistics produced in the study are alarming, most agree that findings are encouraging and could offer a new way for the community to help keep our roads safer. "The program survey results have provided numerous testimonials about how smartphone breathalyzer are an effective resource in getting drinkers to think more about their BAC levels," CDOT Communications Manager Sam Cole said, "and how easy it is to approach the DWAI and DUI limits after only one or two drinks."
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