Within the next five years, new technologies could go a long way toward reducing the risk of drunk driving collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTs) have collaborated on a program called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
Since 2008, DADSS research has been focused on identifying technologies to help reduce the risk of motorists becoming involved in drunk driving crashes. Soon, new technologies may be integrated into vehicles to prevent drivers from operating the cars when impaired.
Preventing Drunk Driving Collisions Through New Technologies
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation indicates the DOT is "bullish on technology." While public education and strict enforcement of impaired driving laws have significantly reduced the number of people injured or killed in car accidents, there are still an estimated 10,000 people killed every year in crashes caused by drivers who are drunk. Victims of impaired driving can file an injury claim for compensation with the help of a personal injury attorney.
If drivers cannot operate their vehicles when impaired, thousands of deaths and injuries each year could be prevented. DADSS has been working on two recently presented technologies: one technology works by detecting the levels of alcohol in a person's blood by touch and the other works by detecting the level of alcohol in a person's body by sensing the breath of the driver. The technologies will be able to determine if a motorist's blood alcohol concentration is at or above the .08 legal limit nationwide. If the technologies detect a level of alcohol that is too high, the vehicles will be prevented from moving.
The goal is to complete research into these prototype technologies so they work seamlessly and effectively and can be incorporated into newly manufactured cars. The technologies are designed to be affordable, quick and reliable so they will not affect driving behavior at all. Initially, they are expected to be sold as an optional safety feature like automatic brakes. Parents of teens will have the option to include the safety features so they get the peace of mind of knowing their children cannot drive drunk.
A test vehicle has been created which integrates the new technologies so researchers can better examine driver's interactions with the technology. The BAC testing should be instantaneous and not require drivers to do anything different than normal. Even the breath test will be contact free. Research suggests as many as 7,000 lives could be saved each year if the technologies achieve widespread adoption and prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel if their BAC is too high.
While these technologies may help to keep motorists safe, it remains the responsibility of every driver not to get behind the wheel drunk. Technologies can malfunction and are not foolproof, but motorists can always make the choice not to operate a vehicle if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs.