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Researchers Develop App to Detect Stoned Drivers

Maureen Meehan

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Most experts agree that measuring impairment from marijuana is difficult and scientifically complex. However, strides are being made.

According to the IB Times, researchers at Arizona State University in Tempe have developed a smartphone app that could help determine whether someone is too stoned to drive a car. It can also enable police to identify impaired drivers.

Richard Dale, director of ASU’s Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security, explained in a statement that the app is a noninvasive test that uses high-speed cameras to gauge microsaccades, which are small, jerky involuntary eye movements. The app would give pot smokers an easy way to monitor their own sobriety by simply staring into their phone’s camera.

The app is similar to a sobriety test, where a police officer measures a driver’s saccades by having someone follow an object like a pen or penlight with his or her eyes. Such movement can actually reveal what is going on in the brain, the ASU researchers say, and in the case of being stoned, it can reveal an impairment, whether temporary or not.

“Whether you’re for or against legalization, what we are focused on is deterring and removing impaired drivers from the roadway,” Dale said.

“It is about awareness, education and deterrence,” he added. “Similar to breathalyzers and alcohol, this technology has the potential to be just as useful to individuals, law enforcement and the judicial community.”

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