According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 28 people are killed in the U.S. every day in drunk driving accidents. More than 10,000 Americans die every year as a result of these tragic and preventable accidents. Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are hoping to curb these tragedies. They have recently introduced legislation to make anti-drink and drive technologies standard features in all American vehicles, hopefully resulting in less DUI.
Anti-Drink and Drive TechThe most common way to measure alcohol impairment is with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. A BAC test measures the weight of the amount of alcohol in a person’s body compared to their total volume of blood, typically expressed in grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood (g/dL).The majority of drunk driving crash fatalities involve drivers with a BAC over 0.08 g/dL. Still, even a relatively small amount of alcohol in a motorist’s bloodstream can have dangerous effects on safe driving abilities.In recent years, new technologies have emerged that can detect a driver’s BAC when they get behind the wheel. These anti-drink and drive technologies prevent drivers from starting their vehicles if they are determined to be too impaired to drive safely.
How the Drivertech Will Prevent DUIFor years, existing ignition interlock drivetech devices have been added to the vehicles of individuals with prior drunk driving convictions in certain states. These states have cumulatively experienced a 30 percent drop in drunk driving fatalities since the devices were implemented for convicted drunk drivers.Ignition interlock devices typically include breathalyzer units, which measure a driver’s BAC by analyzing their breath. If drivers are over the legal limit, these devices prevent their vehicles from starting. Anti-drink and drive tech prevents DUI by requiring drivers to re-check their BAC at specific time intervals to ensure they are not intoxicated while driving.However, laws surrounding ignition interlock devices are not always enforced consistently by state governments. As a result, the NHTSA has recently partnered with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) to develop a new Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program.The DADSS program relies on built-in vehicle systems that employ two different methods to stop drivers from starting their cars if they are dangerously drunk. These methods include:
- A breath-based system, which requires drivers to breathe into a special sensor on their vehicle’s steering column or driver’s side door. The sensor uses a beam of light to analyze the concentration of ethanol molecules in the driver’s breath.
- A touch-based system, which requires drivers to place their fingers on sensors located on their vehicle’s ignition button or gear shift. These touch-based sensors scan beneath the skin’s surface with infrared light to measure BAC.