Drunk driving is a major problem world-wide. It kills roughly 10.000 people every year in the United States alone and it’s not just reckless teenagers who hop on the wheel after a night of boozing, but responsible, full grown adults as well.
This past Thursday (June 4, 2015), a group of socially responsible auto makers and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) participated at an event in Washington, D.C. where they showed off a conceptual vehicle equipped with the first ever Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). It’s a project that the team has been working on perfecting since 2008.
As the name suggests, the system was designed with the intention of preventing people who’ve been drinking from driving their cars in an attempt to stop drunk driving and make the roads safer for everyone. It works by measuring the alcohol level of the person sitting in the driver’s seat. The process takes less than one (1) second, and if the system detects an alcohol blood concentration that’s above the legal limit – 0.08 (it’s the same in all 50 states) – the vehicle simply refuses to start.
For drivers under the age of 21, the legal drinking age in the Unstated Stated, the system can be programmed for “a zero tolerance policy”, meaning that if the system detects any level of alcohol whatsoever, the vehicle will refuse to start.
It’s a project with noble intentions, but one has to wonder if people who practice drunk driving would be interested in such a car of if they’d find it to be an inconvenient thing to own since it would prevent them from driving wherever they wand, whenever they want, regardless of what state they were in.
The developers are currently considering two (2) different technologies that would support Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety if added to vehicles. One of them is a breathe-based system. It involves placing infrared sensors in strategic locations in order to isolate the driver from the passengers, collect air from him or her and analyze the ratio of carbon dioxide an alcohol.
The second technology involves a touch-based system being placed on a surface that absolutely has to be touched in order to operate the car – for instance the start button or the gearshift lever. The system would use infrared light to conduct a tissue spectroscopy and measure the alcohol level by analyzing the blood sitting right under the skin.
Mark Rosekind, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator, gave a statement saying that the system “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”.
He researchers working on Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety pitched it as an optional safety feature similar to Emergency Break Assist or lane Departure Warning.
The American Beverage Institute on the other hand had been vocal about making the technology mandatory in all cars similar to how airbags are mandatory.
The project is also supported by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.
Image Source: wellandgood.com