I have been hearing for years about how automakers have been working on new technology to eliminate drunk driving. In my opinion, they will need a federal regulation mandating this technology if they want to make this universal. Otherwise, too many people will not want to pay more money for a feature that gives them less freedom.
A technological breakthrough that could virtually eliminate the drunken driving that kills 10,000 Americans each year was announced Thursday by federal officials, who said it could begin appearing in cars in five years.
The new equipment won’t require a driver to blow into a tube, like the interlock devices some states require after drunken-driving convictions. Instead, either a passive set of breath sensors or touch-sensitive contact points on a starter button or gear shift would immediately register the level of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Drivers who registered above the legal limit wouldn’t be able to start the car.
“The message today is not ‘Can we do this?’ but ‘How soon can we do this?’ ” said Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “It is a huge step forward.”
Eager to introduce an advance that would rival seat belts or air bags in saving lives, Rosekind said he would push to get the technology finalized, field tested and put into use before the five to eight years anticipated by researchers.
Though no cost-per-car estimate has been made, once the sensors go into general production it’s anticipated the cost will be equal to that of seat belts or air bags, about $150-$200 per vehicle.
Asked whether there would be a federal effort to mandate use of the devices in all new vehicles, Rosekind said he wasn’t sure that would be necessary.
“There’s not going to be a parent who isn’t going to want this in their child’s car,” he said. “There’s not going to be a business that’s not going to want this in their vehicles.”
NHTSA, safety advocates and automakers discussed whether the necessary technology was feasible for years. Researchers funded by auto manufacturers and federal safety regulators now have determined that it works.
They have developed passive sensors that detect how much a driver has had to drink, but are working on how best to package the sensors inside a vehicle. They have determined how to package touch-sensitive devices but still need to refine the technology to ensure accuracy…
The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association, opposes the alcohol detection system.
“Today, NHTSA, MADD, and major auto makers presented what they claim will be a voluntary system … a description that directly contradicts their own past statements,” the organization said in a statement.
Though Rosekind said he didn’t think it would be necessary to make the system mandatory, he did not preclude that option. MADD is unambiguous in its belief that the system belongs in all vehicles.
Read the full story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/new-technology-could-put-an-end-to-drunk-driving-federal-officials-say/2015/06/04/1cd31176-0a5b-11e5-9e39-0db921c47b93_story.html