The statistics above are provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
In light of the above facts, it does not seem that current laws or penalties for drunk driving will cause an end to this type of reckless behavior. However, what if we could use technology to stop an intoxicated driver even before the keys are put in the ignition?
According to the New York Times, this is exactly what the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is trying to accomplish in the next few years. Through the new Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program researchers hope to have a solution to this problem by 2020.
Currently, two options are being researched and tested. The first one is a system that uses specialized technology touch pads installed in the vehicle—most likely on the steering wheel—to measure the amount of alcohol in one’s body through contact with the skin. Another option would be to embed the system in the key fob or the stop-start ignition button. However, this could present a problem if a drunk driver is able to get someone else to start the vehicle for them.
The second option mimics a breathalyzer system. This system operates by drawing in the driver’s normal breathing and measuring the concentration of alcohol using infrared light inside sensors. The location of the sensors—on the steering column or the driver’s side door—would ensure that only the driver’s breath would be analyzed. Although a benefit of this system is that it only needs to be calibrated once, critics have doubts about the accuracy of it.
Moving forward, researchers are looking for ways to make these systems more accurate and have considered combining the two. They realize the need for a system that is 100% accurate, as well as quick and discreet. Overall, the future is bright for this type of technology eventually being installed in new vehicles.
Before attending a social event where alcohol may be served, it may be helpful to implement some of the following tips:
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