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Despite extensive public education and strict impaired driving laws, drunk driving collisions continue to cause an estimated 10,000 deaths each year in the United States. An experienced car accident lawyer knows technology could provide an answer to significantly reducing the risk of impaired driving accidents.

NHTSA Describes Promising New Anti-Drunk Driving Technologies

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation has reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is “bullish on technology.” The statement comes in conjunction with the recent debut of a test model vehicle incorporating two new technologies designed to prevent impaired driving.

One of the two technologies is designed to detect the level of alcohol in a driver’s blood by touch sensors. An infrared light shines through the driver’s fingertips to measure blood alcohol levels under the surface of the skin.

The other technology is a breath-test based technology. The system performs an instant test and is contact free, so drivers do not need to do anything outside their normal behavior. As the driver breathes normally in his vehicle, the breath test detects the level of alcohol in his exhaled breath.

The technologies are part of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) have been collaborating together on DADSS research since 2008. The public-private partnership was created with the goal of creating seamless, effective, affordable tests for alcohol to incorporate into vehicles. Drivers should not have to change their normal driving behavior in order for the tests to work, the tests should not have false positives, and the tests should not be expensive to install. Past technologies have failed some of these criteria, but the new technologies DADSS has developed could hopefully be successful enough to make inclusion into vehicles possible.

Researchers will be monitoring the test vehicle incorporating the two new technologies in order to see how drivers interact with the vehicles. It is estimated a technology like the ones under development could save as many as 7,000 lives each year. When the technology detects through the breath or through touch that a driver’s BAC is .08 or higher, the vehicle will not move. The driver will be physically prevented from operating the car when he is impaired.

The plan is for the technology to initially be offered as an optional safety feature motorists can choose to include in their vehicles. Parents of teenage drivers can choose a vehicle Incorporating DADSS technology to ensure their children do not get behind the wheel when impaired. If the technology works effectively and is seamless, it could perhaps some day be incorporated into all cars as a standard safety feature. This could virtually put an end to drunk driving accidents.

While the technology is still under development, drivers need to remember their obligation to stay sober. Even if cars do come equipped with BAC testing, it will ultimately remain the responsibility of every motorist not to make the dangerous choice to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink or after using drugs.