Austin, Texas (KWKT) — As the fall semester welcomes back college students across the state, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will partner with three universities to test a new Facebook-integrated app designed to help students plan ahead for a sober ride home.
“It is well known that college life often includes some events that involve drinking,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. “In those situations, we hope this app will encourage college students to leave the driving to someone who has not been drinking. Crashes related to alcohol are entirely preventable and we feel this new technology offers yet another option to curb drunk driving.”
Known as the P.A.S.S. (Person Appointed to Stay Sober) App , the tool will be tested and promoted at the University of North Texas (UNT), Midwestern State University (MSU) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) during the coming school year.
The P.A.S.S. App integrates with Facebook’s existing event-planning component, enabling users to coordinate sober rides. Once a Facebook event has been created through the app, friends can locate sober drivers and find out how many passengers they can carry. The app also enables passengers to compensate sober drivers for their gas money.
Drunk driving among college-age Texans continues to be a major issue. In 2012, there were 7,096 motor vehicle crashes in Texas involving drivers between ages 18 and 24 who were under the influence of alcohol. Those crashes led to 2,181 serious injuries and 231 fatalities.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, 40 percent of drivers who consumed alcohol felt it would be safe to have three or more drinks within a two-hour period before driving. A portion of that 40 percent believed they could have five or more drinks. Numerous studies have shown that consuming as little as one drink can impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle.
In Texas, the legal limit for intoxication is .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration.) Drivers also can be arrested with a BAC below .08 when a law enforcement officer has probable cause based on the driver’s behavior. In Texas, DWI penalties include jail time, a suspended driver’s license and as much as $17,000 or more in fines, legal fees and other expenses.