“Every year in the U.S., drunk driving claims about 10,000 lives and costs approximately $194 billion.”
10,000 lives. Those are deaths that are completely unnecessary and can be easily prevented. There is a new technology being researched under the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program. This technology will automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at or above 0.08%, which is the legal limit in all 50 states (except Utah 0.05%). If it detects a driver is at or over the limit the technology prevents the vehicle from moving.
Before this technology is released to car manufacturers it has to meet rigorous performance standards and will be voluntarily offered as a safety option in new cars as an additional safety option. This is similar to how automatic braking, lane departure warning, and additional driver assist technologies are offered.
Congress has recognized how the DADSS program could potentially save lives and have supported making part of a multi-faceted commitment to reduce and hopefully eliminate drunk driving after it is tested. There are 2 options that are being explored for the system. They include a breath-based system which measures the BAC normally when the driver is in the driver’s seat. According to DADSS, “it will be designed to take instantaneous readings as the driver breathes normally and to accurately and reliably distinguish between the driver’s breath and that of any passengers.” The second option is a touch-based system, which measures BAC under the skin’s surface by shining an infrared light through the fingertip of the driver. According to DADSS, “It will be integrated into current vehicle controls, such as the start button or steering wheel, and take multiple, accurate readings.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said after an analysis that if driver BACs can be limited to no more than 0.08% percent, approximately 7,000 lives could be saved annually.