Legislation is being proposed that would prevent people from driving cars if they’re drunk.
Drunk driving is a real problem. According to the NHTSA, 10,847 people were killed in accidents involving intoxicated drivers back in 2017. Last year, the agency said that 7,000 lives could be saved if drunk drivers weren’t able to get behind the wheel of a car.
And since the technology exists to prevent drunk drivers from driving, then why not make it a standard feature of all vehicles? That’s the thinking of two US Senators--Democrat Tom Udall and Republican Rick Scott--who plan to introduce legislation mandating such technology on all new cars by the middle of the next decade.
Since the bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, it might actually pass. Additionally, a similar bill in the US House of Representatives has also been introduced mandating such technology by the year 2024.
It would have big effects on the national economy. The NHTSA estimates that the United States loses $200 billion annually due to accidents involving intoxicated drivers, with the bulk of them being drunk.
While the technology already exists to prevent driving through the use of a breathalyzer, such devices are bulky and absolutely ruin a car’s aesthetic (and it doesn’t even fit in certain vehicles). That’s why the NHTSA has been studying more streamlined tech that would monitor a driver’s blood alcohol either through infrared touch sensors on the steering wheel or engine start button, or by using visual sensors to monitor the driver’s eye movements.
Volvo has already announced a similar technology will be rolled out in all of its new vehicles for the early part of 2020. The system uses discrete sensors inside the cabin to track the driver’s eye movements to determine if their tired, drunk, or otherwise distracted, and then automatically take action to prevent an accident.
If the technology can be proven to be reliable, this new system could become a standard safety feature in the very near future.