Colorado Inventors’ iPhone App Aims to Prevent Impaired Driving
A new iPhone app called CheckPlusBalance can help people assess their sobriety before taking the wheel, to avoid driving while impaired. The app was created by Lenny Frieling, a board member of the Colorado branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and a Boulder, Colorado, criminal defense lawyer, and inventor Marc R. Silverman. According to Frieling, CheckPlusBalance helps prevent poor judgment in many potentially dangerous activities, not only driving a vehicle, but also such things as using a table saw.
A press release published on Norml.org says that CheckPlusBalance gives users a fast, private, accurate, and objective measure of personal performance, no matter what is causing possible impairment, from marijuana to alcohol, medications, illness, or fatigue. The app takes only two minutes for a person to complete, and provides accurate information about his or her memory, balance, reaction time, and time perception. App users can set their own personal sober “baseline” when they are not feeling impaired, which takes about five minutes, and that baseline can be reset at any time.
When taking the memory part of the CheckPlusBalance test, you see six random numbers appear, spin and disappear, and are asked to remember them. In another part of the test, you are asked to stand on one leg for several seconds to test balance. The app’s reaction time test shows dots in different sizes and colors and you are asked to tap certain ones. The last section tests time perception. Your scores are compared with either your own baseline or a generic norm. You can also choose to make the test easier or more difficult.
The app’s underlying technology and application, according to the press release, is the result of 60 years of combined technology and legal experience and study, including thousands of federal and international peer-reviewed studies, thousands of court hearings, NASA/NHTSA/DOD research, medical device development, and performance assessment experience.
Tom Walker has written for HealthPolicySolutions.org that “the so-called driving-stoned law” passed by the Colorado legislature in the waning hours of its 2013 session is intended to minimize the public health threat of impaired drivers, but is expected to be difficult to enforce. He quotes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which wrote: “Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.”
Walker writes that driving stoned is a serious public health issue that could become more dangerous as people in Colorado are allowed to use cannabis recreationally and not only for health reasons. The press release quotes NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano: “Use of this performance-based technology better promotes responsible cannabis use and addresses public demands for alternative ways to discourage driving under the influence.”
The app can be downloaded for free here. And below is a video demo of the app: