Drink driving apps that supposedly tell you whether you’re over or under the legal limit to drive after consuming alcohol need to be thoroughly checked for accuracy and potentially regulated, Queensland’s leading road safety research body says.
The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q) is worried that a proliferation of apparently unevaluated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) calculators could be giving drivers trying to do the right inaccurate information on which to base decisions.
It’s an issue that CARRS-Q’s Dr Hollie Wilson is looking for a solution too as smartphones and apps become ubiquitous in modern life.
Part of the challenge for researchers is the extent to which health and risk prevention apps, including BAC calculators, are effective or evidence-based remains “largely unknown”.
“There is concern that apps intended to be useful health tools may actually provide inaccurate and misleading information,” Dr Wilson says. “This is worrying when coupled with an absence of regulatory control and evaluation.”
The bottom line is that CARRS-Q wants to be sure that the apps are accurate and work – based on actual hard evidence – and are prepared to build one themselves if necessary.
Dr Wilson cautioned it is essential that any drink driving app “provides accurate and concise information based on current research.”
To get to that point CARRS-Q has been running research study and conducted “a systematic contextual review of drink driving prevention apps.” They’ve also them based on “overall quality” that includes how engaging they are, how they look, functionality, information quality and – arguably most importantly – assessed the accuracy of the BAC calculators that are the basis of many apps.
CARRS-Q says most apps that focus on “impaired driving” specifically try to calculate how long iot will take a driver to be under the limit “by estimating Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) with a simple calculation to make it easy for a person to know their risk level.”
“The review highlighted the need to understand better what messaging is needed to ensure the transmission of accurate, evidence-based and useful information to people who are at risk of drink driving, what motivates them to use apps of this kind, and how a gamified approach might improve app quality and uptake,” CARRS-Q said.
The research body said the project has now been finalised, with full results are expected to be published “in the near future”.
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