A blog post earlier this month exhibited the rate of drunk driving in Colorado and the volume of DUI arrests on New Years Eve alone in the state. Drunk driving is an extensive problem, causing over 10,000 deaths in the US each year.
That is why several states have augmented their campaigns calling upon the public to report drivers whom they suspect to be drunk. To hone in on this point, the DUI Foundation states, “Witnessing a drunk driver entering a vehicle, or seeing a possible drunk driver passing you on the roadway and not making the effort to report the incident is tantamount to refusing to call for help after seeing a loaded gun pointed at someone’s head.“
Reporting suspects and getting drunk drivers off the road undoubtedly saves lives and authorities say that thousands of drunk drivers are intervened upon through anonymous tips. Because of this success, states have enacted laws and programs to reduce the large percentage of alcohol related deaths through citizen reporting campaigns. These campaigns ordain specific community members to report suspected DUI offenders in their neighborhoods and call upon the public writ large to report those exhibiting signs of impairment. For example, according to the Colorado State Patrol, impaired drivers are those who are:
1. Appearing to be drunk (e.g. eye fixation, face close to windshield, drinking in the vehicle.)
2. Turning with a wide radius
3. Almost striking an object or car
4. Weaving, swerving or drifting
5. Driving significantly under the speed limit for no obvious reason
6. Braking erratically or stopping without cause
7. Accelerating rapidly
9. Straddling the center of the lane or driving with the left tires on the center line
10. Responding slowly to traffic signals
11. Turning abruptly or illegally
12. Driving at night with headlights off
If you see someone driving like this in Colorado, the State Patrol encourages you to call Star-DUI (*384) or Star-CSP (*277). However, if these signs are evident it is not always easy to catch the license plate number without risking your own driving by not paying attention to the road. That is why Frank Vahid, a computer science professor at the University of California, Riverside created an Android phone application called “DuiCam” that makes it easier to report drunk drivers.
The application is free and has already had over 1000 downloads. Vahid has observed and reported numerous drunk drivers and drunk driving accidents – often to no avail because he wasn’t able to get the full license plate numbers. “That’s why I was thinking it would be helpful to have a device that’s always recording what’s in front of the car” he said – and the DuiCam does exactly that. To use the application, Drivers mount the phones on the front of their cars when they see a driver that may be under the influence. After they capture a video of the car they can replay it and zoom in on the license plates and report the information to the police. The application can be found and downloaded at DuiCam.org.
A lofty percentage of those who drive while impaired have alcohol dependency or suffer from alcoholism. If you are concerned for your own or a loved one’s alcohol consumption or impaired driving, Harmony Foundation has alcoholism treatment in Colorado that can help.