Personal Breathalyzer Paints Troubling Picture Of Drinking Trends

Alan McStravick for – Your Universe online

It has been said of the second largest and second most populous state in the Union that everything is bigger in Texas. Nowhere is this more true than in the state’s capital dome (which reaches higher into the air than the capital dome in Washington, DC), its cowboy hats and, regretfully, in its drunk driving deaths.

Statistics for the year 2012 for this grim figure, released seven months ago, show that a staggering 1,296 individuals lost their lives on Texas roads and highways as a result of driving under the influence. California, ranked as the most populous state in the nation, saw nearly 500 fewer of its citizens’ lives claimed by this reckless and preventable act. It should come as no surprise then that the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended further lowering the legal definition of intoxication to .05, down from the current .08 blood alcohol content (BAC).

San Francisco-based BACtrack, the North American leader in both professional and personal breathalyzer products, released a comprehensive breakdown of data collected by their award winning personal breathalyzer product, BACtrack mobile. Recognized by Popular Science with the ‘Best of What’s New’ award for 2013 for health innovation, the BACtrack mobile product is a bluetooth enabled device that sends BAC readings to a user’s smartphone. Data for this report was anonymously collected among those who had the geolocation functions of their phones turned on.

The findings were both interesting and revelatory of date-specific and location-specific drinking trends nationwide. For instance, with this year’s Summer solstice fast approaching, it should be noted that last June 22 saw the heaviest average drinking nationwide at .115 percent. BACtrack believes this data could aid traffic and law enforcement to formulate more effective policies and tactics meant to combat drunk driving. However, BACtrack claims their product is primarily meant to raise the awareness of clients of just when they may have passed the threshold of being impaired.

Other dates and the average BAC associated with them were perhaps less surprising than the weekend that officially kicks off the start of summer. For instance, New Year’s Eve revelers presented an average BAC of .095 while those testing their intoxication on Super Bowl Sunday registered .087 percent. A day that is often heralded as America’s drinking holiday — St. Patrick’s Day — came in at one of the lower average BAC’s recorded with just .057 percent among BACtrack Mobile users and their friends.

While the date-specific data is interesting, geographic data painted a definitive picture of which states and cities were the hardest drinking in the country. Residents of Montana and South Dakota proved they frequently over-imbibe, registering state averages of .101 percent. New Hampshire’s state motto could easily be changed to ‘Live Alcohol Free or Die’ with the nation’s lowest average BAC of .012 percent. Not Surprisingly, Utah, with the heavy influence of the Mormon Church, also registered one of the nation’s lowest BAC averages at .031 percent.

The geographic data collected by BACtrack matches law enforcement statistics for arrests due to drunk driving. Per capita, Montana had the highest number of arrests while New Hampshire had the lowest.

Individual cities were analyzed as well. Dallas came in with the highest average BAC of .091 percent. The Texas city was followed very closely by Oakland, Scottsdale and Indianapolis. Interestingly, another Texas city had the lowest BAC average in the country. Houston came in at just .034

The results of this data are definitely eye opening and serve the BACtrack company mission which is, according to Keith Nothacker, CEO and founder of BACtrack, “…to enlighten the general public on alcohol consumption habits so that they become more responsible drinkers.”

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