New DUI Prevention Technology Coming Soon
Recent Congressional legislation will require future cars to include technology that monitors the driver to determine if they are too intoxicated to drive. As stipulated by the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden in 2021, all new automobiles sold in America will be equipped with these drunk driving prevention devices as soon as the technology is available.
Automakers and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) are working together to design and implement Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) that will “passively monitor the performance of the driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether the driver may be impaired.”
The Beginning of the End of Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is the number one preventable cause of traffic fatalities in the United States, responsible for over 10,000 deaths every year. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving causes 3 out of 10 fatalities that result from collisions on the road.
Highway safety advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been lobbying in favor of DADSS for years. MADD president Alex Otte is ecstatic about the new law, calling it “the single most important legislation” in the group’s history. She also says these devices “will be the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”
Monitoring Motorists While They Drive
Automakers such as Volvo have already developed promising DADSS technology, which could be available in new cars starting as soon as 2026.
Ignition interlock devices (IID) are currently available to prevent people with a history of drunk driving from starting their cars unless they can demonstrate they aren’t intoxicated by blowing into a device that measures their blood alcohol content (BAC).
But unlike IID, DADSS would be required for all new vehicles. And instead of preventing drivers from starting their engine, DADSS monitors motorists while they’re driving. If DADDS notices signs of intoxication or erratic behavior, it may sound an alarm to get the driver’s attention or it could even cause the car to pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine.
New Technology to Stop Drunk Driving
As soon as automakers can come up with DADSS technology that meets NHTSA standards, these drunk driving prevention devices will be implemented. Several types of technology are being considered, including:
- Touch-based systems that measure BAC by using sensors mounted on the steering wheel that shine an infrared light through the driver’s fingertips. The devices use the infrared light’s reflection to determine alcohol levels in blood circulating beneath the skin.
- Breath systems measure BAC as the person in the driver’s seat breathes. It will be able to distinguish the driver’s breath from the breath of passengers. These devices could be coming to fleet vehicles soon where there is a zero-tolerance alcohol policy for drivers.
- Camera-based systems can check the driver for pupil dilation while sensors check the driver’s motions and steering activity to determine if they are too impaired to drive.
DADSS Will Be required in All New Cars
Provisions of the infrastructure bill requiring DADSS technology was originally featured in the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act, which was bipartisan legislation introduced in April 2021.
The infrastructure bill that the president signed requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish DADSS guidelines within three years. After that, automakers will have two more years to install DADSS in all new vehicles.
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