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New Smartphone App Estimates Blood-Alcohol Concentration

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A new smartphone application estimates a person’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). The app is designed to help a person decide if they should avoid driving because they’ve had too much to drink.

A person using the app, called “Show Me My Buzz,” enters information including how many drinks they’ve had, their weight and their gender, KMOX reports. The app, launched by the Missouri Department of Transportation, then estimates the person’s BAC.

If the app indicates the person has exceeded Missouri’s legal BAC limit of .08, it will provide the phone number of a local taxi company. The state Department of Transportation points out the app only provides an estimate of a person’s BAC, which also can be influenced by how much food he or she has in their stomach, the medications they are taking, as well as other health and psychological factors. “Many establishments that serve alcohol, serve portions larger than the standard drink size,” notes the website for the app.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Mark Nason
    Mark Nason / August 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

    While well intended, this is potentially a very dangerous app. As the disclaimer indicates, the results are based on averages and there are a lot of factors that affect the accuracy of the calculation for an individual. These calculations can be off by more than 200%. The only good thing about the app is that it provides the phone number of a local cab company.

  2. Avatar of Chris, Prevention Specialist
    Chris, Prevention Specialist / August 23, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I thought it was interesting that this article immediatly follows one that stated researcher found that showing students their BAC on a breathalyzer encouraged them to drink more rather than less. It seems this might do the same.
    More importantly though, is that these calculators are not very accurate. As the article states, BAC is influenced by many things that can not be accounted for.
    If the person’s estimate is below the legal limit, say .07, what are the odds that the person is actually above .08. Pretty good, I would say. Then the person feels like they have permission to drive, especially since the app is presented by a state department of transportation.
    There is also the concern that the person may not understand how much alcohol is in a drink, which will throw off the estimate.
    Ultimately, this app is more likely to encourage people that should not be driving to go ahead and do so.

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