According to a recent unveiling by the Department of Transportation, powerful
new technologies may prevent future drunk drivers from operating their
own vehicles. In its announcement last month, the organization revealed
that two new in-cabin alcohol detection systems were currently in development
and could be a featured option in new automobiles as soon as 2020.
New York Times reports, the two new systems will use unobtrusive, passive technology to determine
whether or not the individual in the driver's seat has an illegal
blood alcohol concentration. One of the systems will use infrared touch
pads on the steering wheel or push ignition button. The second will use
an updated version of breathalyzer technology that will detect BAC levels
from the driver's normal breathing.
If either the systems detects an illegal BAC level, it will prevent the
car from starting, much like an ignition interlock device. A cooperating
group of regulators and automakers is funding the effort to bring this
technology to the market as soon as possible as part of the new Driver
Alcohol Detection System for Safety program.
The End of DWIs?
Officials like Jeff Michael of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
believe that the technology will be a huge sell to parents providing a
car for their teenagers, but also notes that the goal is to make the technology
widely available to all different kinds of vehicles, drivers, and industries.
"The potential is huge," he told the paper.
Resistance to the proposed technology has been limited, but the American
Beverage Institute did voice their concerns, calling the technology "misguided"
and fearing that even social drinkers might be dissuaded from drinking
if they know their car could monitor them. Mr. Michael reiterated, however,
that the technology is being specifically honed to be fast, accurate,
and permissive to anyone below the legal BAC limit—including social drinkers.
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