New alcohol detection system won't let car move if driver is drunk

New Alcohol Detection System Won't Let Car Move If Driver Is Drunk

About 10,000 people die in alcohol-related auto accidents each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released details of a new detection system that could significantly reduce that fatality rate.

Called the 'Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety', the feature won't let the driver move the vehicle if the blood alcohol level is above .08, the legal limit in all 50 states. The threshold can be programmed so for instance, if any alcohol is detected in a teen driver, the car won't start.

Unlike the interlock devices which entail users blowing into a tube, the new system will be non-invasive and work either via touch-based or breath-based mechanisms.

According to an online video describing the new system, "The breath-based technology pulls the driver's exhaled breath into a sensor which could be located in the driver side door or in the steering column as the driver breathes normally."

The touch-based technology will register alcohol-level based on reading from the driver's touch on the ignition switch or the gear shift.

The agency says there's a lot more research that needs to be done, which could take five to eight years.

NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind notes that the new technology, "has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths."

Rosekind says that at this point he doesn't see the need for the system to be mandatory for all vehicles.

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