ENDUI App Is Uncle Sam's Way Of Cutting You Off

by Lulu Chang

Need to behave responsibly after a night out on the town? There's now an app for that, and it's being paid for by the federal government. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently decided to fund a new app called ENDUI that will show users how their alcohol intake will affect their motor skills and reflexes, thereby showing them just how (un)prepared they may be to get behind the wheel. The idea behind the endeavor, as the name suggests, is to end DUI's.

While the app doesn't include a built-in breathalyzer test, it allows drinkers to enter their height, weight and number of drinks consumed to approximate their blood alcohol content. But more unique is the app's gamified approach to simulating how your drunkenness will affect your functioning in real life situations. For example, one game, or test, asks you to press a large, red "stop" button anytime a pedestrian appears appears, or the car in front of your pretend-vehicle slows down. And based on your ability to react to these situations on a low-risk iPhone or Android game, app developers are hoping that you'll be persuaded to think twice about your readiness to drive in the real world, where the consequences of losing are much more severe.

Tom Gianni, chief of the Maryland Highway Safety Office, applauded the strategy of the app, telling the Associated Press, "The game is meant to be a hook and pull you in. Then it's meant to give you a lesson of, 'See what can happen. Imagine if you were behind the wheel.'" This technology-driven approach to safety lessons represents a concerted effort by transportation officials to join the digital age, with Kara Macek, a spokeswoman at the Governors Highway Safety Association, noting that the decision to turn to an app is "unique."

Speaking with the AP, Macek said, "I think states are starting to go that route because they're trying to reach consumers where they are and where they spend time, and everyone spends time on their phone. I think we're going to see more of that as we go forward." Maryland is not the only state that has attempted to reach drivers by way of their smartphones — New York, New Mexico, Colorado, and California have all moved forward with their own version of the app in the last few weeks.

I tried out the app for myself, and while it's certainly no Angry Birds or 2048, the app clearly serves its purpose of keeping drivers safe, and is equipped with warnings at essentially every stage to encourage safe and responsible drinking and (not) driving practices. Your ENDUI experience begins with a disclaimer: the "app is for educational purposes only," and the estimated BAC level "is only an estimate and is in no way a legal substitute for a police breathalyzer test and is not admissible in court." And of course, the app reminds you not to "drink any amount of alcohol and drive."

Once you've accepted these conditions, ENDUI brings you to a comprehensive menu page, where you can choose to use the app to do a number of things, included reporting a drunk driver, calling a designated driver, finding transportation, estimating your BAC, testing your skills, an accessing videos and facts about DUI's that should scare some no-drinking-and-driving-sense into you.

The first option, "report a drunk driver," allows you to dial 911 should you witness unsafe driving behaviors. The app comes complete with detailed instructions of exactly what to report, and how to proceed after making the call. Of course, you should not make the call while you're driving yourself!

If you're the one in need of a bit of assistance, ENDUI also allows you to call a cab or a friend to pick you up. Best of all, the app connects you to Google Maps in order to find your position, so you can tell your faithful DD exactly which watering hole to retrieve you from.

If you're unsure of how exactly you're going to get home at all, ENDUI also has a solution for that, allowing you to find transportation, either by calling a cab or by connecting you to the local public transportation website.

There is also the handy (but inadmissible as evidence) feature of the blood alcohol guide, which at the very least, "kind of takes the guesswork out of a situation where you've had a few drinks and you're not sure what to,"as Mr. Gianni told the AP. ENDUI, in effect, "takes all the brainwork out of" determining whether or not you're safe to get behind the wheel (though if you have to think about it at all, you're probably better off calling a friend, a cab, or finding your way underground).

The alcohol guide first allows you to set your profile, inputting your gender and your weight, then allows you to monitor the number of drinks you've had.

Every time you imbibe, you can record it in ENDUI, including information on the type of drink and how much of it you've had.

The app keeps a running tally of how your BAC level, and even takes into account how the passage of time affects your sobriety.

Then we get into the fun part of the app — the games.

While they seem easy enough to complete when sober, both challenges would prove a bit more difficult under the influence, which should deter potential drivers from taking to the road after a little too much fun.

Finally, there are the videos, the DUI Facts, and a link to Toward Zero Deaths, a national initiative implemented separately by a number of states that seeks to improve the overall safety of drivers (and their passengers). While this certainly isn't the first app aimed at reducing drinking and driving risks, its support from Uncle Sam certainly makes it unique, and hopefully with the clout of the national government, drinking and driving will become obsolete.

Images: ENDUI