Eye Spy: New Impairment Testing a Welcome Sight

When a previously illicit substance becomes legal, as cannabis did on October 17, 2018, there are a lot of reactions. The average person wasn’t affected that much, but businesses and law enforcement had to adapt their policies on working and driving while impaired, respectively. Cannabis impairs users’ judgement and response times, raising questions about workplace and road safety. Operating heavy machinery or a motor vehicle while under the influence of a mind altering substance can have catastrophic consequences, so it’s tremendously important that adequate impairment screening be implemented. Several different methods have been proposed or put into place, but one Edmonton company might have the best solution for this new problem.

“SafetyScan detects psychomotor impairment by alcohol, drugs, and cognitive fatigue via a 30 second test of involuntary eye movement,” according to the company’s website. “An infrared camera tracks this eye movement and the test result is then analyzed using our proprietary algorithm. We then compare this current test to a previously established ‘normal’ baseline for that person.” Conventional drug testing takes a long time to get results, and doesn’t provide an accurate representation of current impairment (since trace amounts of drugs can remain in a person’s system for weeks or months following consumption. This new technology is compelling because it provides instant results without invading a person’s privacy.

SafetyScan’s system is an elegant solution to one problem that’s arisen risen from cannabis legalization. However, the issue is complex and will require cooperation from all sectors until the political, legal and social ramifications can be properly addressed. There will be more speed bumps as society adapts to this new paradigm, but the ingenuity of companies like SafetyScan is making the transition as smooth as it can possibly be.