Car Manufacturers to Develop New Tech to Prevent Drunk Driving

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The last resort would be requiring all drivers to use a breathalyzer each time before driving.
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In late 2023, the federal government announced a plan they will implement in 2024 that will force auto manufacturers in the United States to develop new technology for their vehicles. This technology would prevent drunk drivers from even being able to start a car, let alone drive one. The federal agency behind this plan is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They announced the plan at the end of last year as a way to provide “advance notice of proposed rulemaking.” They wanted to be able to research and gain insight into the public opinion of the plan. The organization also knew that the auto makers would need ample time to go through all stages of tech development before they can implement the tech into cars.

The proposed tech would be some way to detect blood alcohol content.

Based on existing research and data, the NHTSA believed auto manufacturers will be able to implement programs that would require checks of B.A.C. before driving, stronger impairment-detection programs (that would detect if a driver were impaired nearly immediately when operating the vehicle and then trigger some sort of auto stopping program), or a combination of both types of technology.

This regulation comes after Congress previously told the NHTSA to create some sort of requirement back in 2021. The death toll in 2021 due to alcohol impaired accidents was almost 13,500 people and the government vowed to lower that number as much as possible, with a promise of getting it below 10,000 people at least.

Per the NHTSA’s current directive, the tech will need to be ready by November 2014.

Already, there are several development projects underway that could meet the National Highway Safety Administration’s goal. The programs are in varying stages of preparedness, so it is ultimately a race to see which is completed in time and the best. Some projects involve a breath or touch based sensor that would detect alcohol before starting a car. Others involve cameras that track eye movement in order to determine if a driver is intoxicated.

Ultimately the goal is to find technology that is not invasive. Some people suggest simply adding breathalyzers to vehicles that require a passed test before starting a car, in the same way some have to after being convicted of DUI charges. The NHTSA is hopeful that this will not be the final outcome.

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