A new app that determines whether a user is too stoned or too drunk to operate a vehicle has been created by Otorize, a startup based in Jerusalem.
With recreational legalization in Canada and increased cannabis use around the world, finding ways to control and minimize stoned driving has become an important pursuit.
New app tests if you’re too stoned to drive
The new app by Otorize tests drivers’ cannabis intoxication levels by asking them to choose the shorter line out of two black lines.
The app provides drivers with the ability to test their own intoxication and ability to drive instantly. The app recognizes any cognitive impairment that may be present no matter the cause of the intoxication in real time.
Driving while high
Just like alcohol, cannabis has a huge effect on one’s cognitive function. This means that, just like driving drunk, driving while high on cannabis can be extremely dangerous.
The dangerous effects of driving high are made evident in a dreadful accident that occurred last month in which an 8-person family died in a car accident on Route 90.
This disastrous accident was caused by a driver that was high on cannabis.
Cannabis use statistics
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that there were a total of 192 million cannabis users worldwide in 2016. In the ten years between 2006 and 2016, the number of cannabis users around the world saw an increase of 16%.
This massive increase in cannabis use could cause problems on the road. The increase also calls for precautionary measures to be taken in order to prevent more disastrous accidents from occurring due to cannabis-induced driving.
In Canada and Uruguay, the production, sale, and consumption of medical and recreational cannabis are all legal.
As far as the United States of America, recreational cannabis is completely legal in 10 states as well as the District of Columbia.
Stoned vs. drunk
Though alcohol and cannabis affect the body differently, these two substances are similar in that they both cause cognitive impairment.
Alcohol affects the body’s water content, whereas cannabis affects the body’s fat content. The process is different but the end result of cognitive impairment is the same.
Cognitive impairment — a reduction of cognitive abilities and skills — is caused by the narcotic effect that substances like alcohol, marijuana, drugs, and even medications induce in people” – Andres Kukawka, CTO and CEO of Otorize
Cannabis-induced driving control in Canada
The police in Canada are using saliva-tests that detect the presence or absence of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, content in drivers. These saliva tests are pricey. Each individual test has a price tag of $25.
Due to how expensive the saliva test is, police officers are instructed to limit the use of the saliva tests to cases in which they’re absolutely sure that the driver they will be testing has recently consumed cannabis.
Another downfall of the saliva test is that it is unable to determine how stoned the test user is. It only determines whether or not the user has consumed cannabis recently.
This means there’s no way of telling if the driver is over the limit.
How does the app work?
The app developed by the Israeli company tests cognitive impairment by asking users which of two lines, that differ in length, that appear on the screen from top to bottom is shorter.
Within a millisecond of the lines appearing on the screen, they become the same length and then the question follows.
The user then responds to the question by clicking on the line they believe to have been the shorter one. The app, then, lets the user know whether they’re OK to drive or not.
The app is also personalized to the specific users’ reaction speed. This personalization occurs in a 7-minute test that has to be taken when the user initially downloads the app.
The 7-minute test consists of the same question 50 times over. Correct answers over a span of time are measured by an algorithm which then analyzes and determines what someone’s personal baseline response time is.
Because response times differ from person to person, someone with a longer baseline response time using the app of someone that has a shorter response time may fail the test and be determined as drunk or high even if they’re sober.
Kukawka explained that if this occurs when the user knows they’re sober, they should just re-take the test a few times. The test can be repeated every few minutes.
Andres Kukawka stated that the company is currently considering working with insurance companies, fleet managers, and perhaps even car manufacturers.
With insurance companies and fleet managers, the car’s immobilizer could be connected to the test app through Bluetooth. This would ensure that those who fail the test cannot operate the vehicle.
With car manufacturers, the system could be built into the vehicle itself.
“A startup comes from two main things: one is the idea that makes gold out of sand, and the other is a need,(…)You hear something and you say I need to fix this, and that’s why Otorize was born,” – Andres Kukawka, CTO and CEO of Otorize
A BETA version of the app is currently available on the Android’s store. Otorize is currently working on the Apple Store version too. Given they get sufficient funds, the app will be commercialized in three months time.
This new app may be a practical and effective way to control and keep stoned driving at bay.