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Over The Limit: How Smart Tech Might End Drink Driving

Drink driving is a big issue here in the US. It’s something that is responsible for over 10,000 deaths each year. And, because of that, it’s also a primary cause of being pulled over and stopped by the police. Every day thousands of people are breathalyzed and interrogated, which is hardly something most of us want.

Now leaders in tech and the NHTSA are trying to put an end to this sorry state of affairs. They want to develop technology that will automatically disable cars when a person is over the limit. And they want to end roadside alcohol tests and all the intrusion into personal privacy that those tests bring.

New Alcohol Detection Prototype

New-Alcohol-Detection-Prototype

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Right now, it has been reported that a number of car makers are getting involved in developing the technology. GM, Volkswagen, and Ford are all said to be getting in on the action. The idea is to retrofit cars with a kind of alcohol detection system. Once the system is up and running it, not the driver, will have the final say on whether the car will start or not. But how does it all work? The new technology is called the Driver Alcohol System for Safety. The system actually works on multiple levels. First, there’s a breathalyzer mounted onto the steering wheel itself. Drivers won’t have to blow into the breathalyzer to start their cars, like in older versions of the technology. Instead, it’ll just sit there on their steering wheels, passively doing its job. The second piece of technology is an infrared light on the engine start button. The infrared light will be used to detect the concentration of alcohol in the blood. Both will then work together and refuse to start the car if the person is over the limit.

the-hope-for-reducing-fatalities

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The Hope For Reducing Fatalities

The US plays host to some of the best DWI representation anywhere in the world. But the new technology doesn’t mean that the legal profession is under threat. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx doesn’t want the technology to become compulsory. He believed that the best strategy is to continue doing what has worked so far. Education and raising awareness have helped to slash DWI rates since their record highs back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Others, however, want to see the system introduced more widely if only to protect drivers from police stops. It’s seen as a particularly important technology for teen drivers and use in commercial fleets.

The US Is A Poor Performer When It Comes To Drink Driving

drink-driving

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Even though the trend is towards less and less drink driving, the US does badly on the drink driving front. As discussed, there are more than 10,000 alcohol-related deaths on US roads each year. In the UK, that number is roughly 230. Thus, there’s likely to be a lot of pressure from road safety groups to force manufacturers to install these devices on all cars.

What’s exciting about the new technology, however, is that it is passive. And so it should go entirely unnoticed by regular drivers.

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Scott J Vargas

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