New technology may end the driving while intoxicated scourge that takes 10,000 lives and causes 290,000 injuries every year in our country.
Spearheaded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is being tested in a pilot program. The agency intends to expand the program once the technology is “seamless, accurate, and precise, and unobtrusive to the sober driver.”
DADSS may soon become as ubiquitous a safety feature as seat belts and airbags are today.
Here’s how DADSS works. When the driver gets inside the vehicle, special sensors automatically detect and register her or his blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This can be done in two ways:
- Breath sensors: The sensors read blood alcohol level as the driver and passengers breathe normally. The sensors also distinguish between each person’s breath so a sober designated driver doesn’t have to worry that her drunk passenger will skew the readings.
- Touch sensors: Sensors integrated in the vehicle’s control panel, such as the steering wheel or ignition button, shine an infrared light through the driver’s finger to read BAC levels just underneath the the surface of the skin.
If the readings indicate the driver has a BAC of .08 percent or higher, the car won’t start.
Currently, police must first notice and stop a drunk driver who is already on the road. Or worse, the drunk driver is only stopped after running into somebody. DADSS would prevent the inebriated person from ever posing a threat in the first place.
How Can You Make DADSS Happen?
Both houses of Congress are considering legislation that would direct the NHTSA to carry out a collaborative research effort on DADSS technology. Senator Tom Udall and Representative Nita Lowey are sponsoring the bills. Send a letter to your congresspersons to let them know you support additional research into this life-saving DADSS technology.
Let’s hope this new technology is installed in all vehicles. I would be happy if I never had to represent a drunk driving victim again..