Could technology prevent the 10,000 average annual deaths each year in the United States caused by people who are impaired behind the wheel? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hopes this is a possibility and is working hard to make this happen. NHTSA has partnered with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) in the development of technology called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
While new technologies could help to improve road safety if they work effectively, the technologies are in development and not likely to be incorporated into cars any time soon. The hope is one day to prevent people from having the option to drive drunk, but until that day comes responsibility continues to be 100 percent with each driver not to get behind the wheel impaired. Drunk drivers should be held accountable if they are intoxicated and cause accidents and an experienced car accident lawyer can help crash victims to pursue damage claims.
New Technologies Could Help to Prevent Impaired Driving Accidents
DADSS technologies are designed to detect when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the national legal limit. The limit is currently set at .08 percent, although some safe advocates believe it should be reduced to .05 percent because a driver is already significantly impaired by the time his BAC has reached the legal limit.
There are two primary technologies being tested to detect a driver's BAC. Both will prevent a car from moving if the driver is tested and his BAC is over the limit. The technologies are designed to work seamlessly. Driver should be able to get into the car and not know the technology is there, as long as they are not drunk. Only a seamless and effective technology is likely to be accepted, as the public may be wary of infringing on the rights of innocent drivers and forcing them to take a BAC test before operating their own vehicles.
The first technology is touch-based. An infrared light is used to detect the level of blood alcohol underneath the surface of a driver's skin. The second technology is a breath test technology but it does not require the driver to specifically blow into a breathalyzer device. When the driver is breathing normally and exhales, the technology will be able to detect his blood alcohol concentration.
Both technologies have now been incorporated into a test vehicle. Researchers will be monitoring to see how the vehicle works in a real-world setting and how drivers interact with it. The goal is to perfect the technology so it can be included in cars sold to the public.
Initially, it is expected the technology will be an optional safety add on like automatic brakes are. Parents who want to make sure their kids do not drive drunk will have the opportunity to choose to add the technology to vehicles they buy. If the technology is effective, it may be incorporated into more vehicles to put an end to the dangerous practice of impaired driving.