College

Good News, America: Engineering Students Are Out to Solve Our Drinking Problems

Some day, there'll be an app for that.
Mr. Vahid and the student-developers behind DuiCam.

Mr. Vahid and the student-developers behind DuiCam.

Problem: Drunk-driving kills 30 Americans a day. Solution: Engineering students.

Or something like that. According to a press release from the University of California, Riverside, professor Frank Vahid and a pair of his students have developed an app they think will help keep drunk drivers off the road. DuiCam, as the app is called, lets users record smartphone video from a dashboard mount, using a self-deleting function to keep from running out of memory. When a DuiCam user spots an erratic driver in front of him, he can pull over and use the app to zoom in on the suspicious motorist’s license plate, and zip the identifying data over to the local police department.

Well, sounds crude. Smartphone app aside, we still need to manually spot drunk drivers and report them to police, right?

Still, it’s probably a more useful deterrent than the LED ice cubes an MIT researcher created to keep people from over-indulging. If you missed that one, the ice cubes contain hardware that track how much you had to drink and how long you’ve been drinking, and flash warning signs when you’ve likely had too much.

Meanwhile, we suppose we’re pleased to learn that colleges aren’t just the place where drinking problems are borne. But here’s some unsolicited advice for Mr. Vahid: If you really want students who can help get to the root of the drunk-driving problem, maybe you should stray outside the engineering department?

Follow Patrick Clark on Twitter or via RSS. pclark@observer.com