By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
A phone app has been developed that is designed to determine if you are too impaired to drive. The newly developed Druid app (www.druidapp.com) does not need your breath or any body fluids to work. Instead the app uses a series of coordination and cognitive skill tests to make a determination of a persons impairment level. Druid is an acronym and stands for DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs, or DRUID.
Developed by Dr. Michael Milburn PhD., a professor of psychology at University of Massachusetts Boston, the app is currently available in the Apple app store for iPad and iPhone and soon will be available for android.
“I was actually talking to Dr. Lester Grinspoon who wrote a book about 40 years ago called Marijuana Reconsidered, and I mentioned to him that I had this idea that I could measure impairment and he encouraged me to do it because the lack of a way to measure impairment is one of the major arguments against legalization,” explained Dr. Milburn in a recent interview for my GODDAB Radio podcast.
“Over the last year I put together the app which measures reaction time, decision making, eye hand coordination, time estimation and balance, and then integrates all these different measures into an overall measure of impairment that I have calibrated against blood alcohol concentration so people can get a sense of the [level of impairment],” said Dr. Milburn.
The app achieves this analysis with some creative tools that include four separate tasks to make the determination. Three of the tasks are “divided attention” tasks that make you do multiple things at one time, which is a major measurement of impairment for driving impairment. The tasks show shapes and require a user to count them or tap them while simultaneously determining the passage of time or physically touch the shapes for prolonged periods. The final test is the classic one foot balance test the utilizes a smart phones motion sensors.
“I have collected a lot of data,” explained Dr. Milburn. “I am doing research now with a psychiatry professor at Brown University Medical School who has a big grant to administer marijuana and she has built Druid into her research protocol, and I am working with researchers at Washington State University who are developing a marijuana Breathalyzer.”
His app rates the impairment level on a scale of 1 to 100 and then compares that level to an equivalent blood alcohol level so the user can get a better sense of what their impairment is and in a way they can easily understand.
“We have this societal ‘norm’ that the level of impairment with a blood alcohol level of greater than .08 is legally drunk driving,” Dr. Milburn said. “The cool thing about Druid is that if people feel strongly that marijuana doesn’t effect them, this app will provide an empirical demonstration of that.”
The app is simple to use and would allow anyone to measure their ability to drive or operate machinery in just a short time. He hopes it will be a
“Druid is a tool, and like a hammer, it takes practice to use it effectively.” Explained Dr. Milburn. “When people first use it they need to use it several times to develop a sort of ‘baseline’. Then when a person suspects strongly that they are impaired, it will tell them that their reaction time is, say, 50% slower than their baseline and also gives the equivalent of the blood alcohol concentration for their level of impairment.”
Originally the tasks took five minutes to complete, but they have decreased the time involved to a mere two minutes, which is a very quick way to determine impairment. This app would work for alcohol, prescription drugs, sleepy drivers, and anyone that’s impaired to drive for almost any reason. Hopefully states will utilize tools like this and stop setting ridiculous THC blood limits—typically a small 5ng/ml limit—and start being more creative in determining actual impairment.
Find out more about the app at their website www.druidapp.com.
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