Image courtesy of the NHTSA.
New blood-alcohol-sensor technology could cause your car to shut down automatically if it senses you’re over the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08. In a presentation to Congress on Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) outlined technology known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), that seeks to create “a world without drunk driving.”
DADSS uses touch and breathalyzer technology to determine if a driver has had too much to drink, and then prevents the driving of the vehicle if the person’s blood-alcohol level is over the legal limit. If the driver should be a teenager, the system would prevent the car from being driven if there is any trace at all of alcohol in the young person’s system.
The NHTSA is pushing Congress to — at some point after the final version of DADSS is finished — require automakers to offer the technology as a safety option on new automobiles sold in the United States. NHTSA, however, is not pushing to make the DADSS alcohol-detection system mandatory in new cars.
During the Congressional presentation, NHTSA touted the DADSS program’s efficiency and accuracy, while showing how researchers will use prototypes of the new system to further develop and test the platform. At present, there are two prototypes being tested – one for touch and one for breathalyzer analysis. NHTSA Administrator, Mark Rosekind, said that the program still has a long way to go, though, as the two technologies should be merged to ensure acceptable levels of accuracy and performance.
Rosekind thanked Congress for its support of the project by saying, “There is still a great deal of work to do, but support from Congress and industry has helped us achieve key research and development milestones.” He continued by adding, “DADSS has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths.”
According to US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, programs such as DADSS are an important reason that the NHTSA considers technology to be key in helping to prevent needless vehicle deaths due to drunk driving. Foxx also stated, “Education, awareness and enforcement have succeeded in dramatically reducing drunk driving fatalities, but the advanced technology of DADSS brings enormous potential to save even more lives.”
According to NHTSA data, more than 10,000 people die every year as a result of alcohol-impaired drivers. Quoting insights from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the NHTSA says that a device or platform capable of preventing drivers with blood-alcohol levels higher than 0.08 could save up to 7,000 lives each year.
For more information on this exciting, and potentially life-saving, program, visit the DADSS website. For a more in-depth view of how the DADSS technology works, check out the video below posted by DADSS on their YouTube account.