As the problem of drugged driving continues to grow, law enforcement officers need tools to help them evaluate impaired motorists, as well as data to help them better understand where to focus enforcement efforts. Thanks to the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the University of Albany Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), officers who are Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) can now use tablet computers to enter their observations and assessments of persons suspected of drugged driving.
For years, paper face sheets would be submitted to the highway safety office, but there was no systematic way to sort the data contained on the sheets to track trends or inform enforcement efforts. In addition, the state coordinator would have to rely on individual DREs to upload their evaluations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) database.
The DRE tablet app captures all the data required for a Drug Influence Evaluation, and more. The system includes an electronic version of a face sheet, validates the data, generates PDF evaluation documents, and uploads all data, including drawings, to a state database. Since the evaluations contain sensitive personal information, data is fully encrypted and security precautions are in place on both the tablet and the server.
The application is now being implemented in other states, beginning with West Virginia and Vermont. Data collected from the application allows law enforcement agencies to plan their patrols around specific time frames and days of the week when drug-impaired driving violations are most prevalent. As this tablet application is implemented in more states, it has the potential to play a big role in making our roads safer from drug-impaired drivers.