Authorized by Driver Alcohol Security Program Detection System
As cars become smarter and safer, some members of Congress want to require them to be built to prevent drunk driving.
Sens. Tom Udall, DN.M., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., Introduced legislation last week that would make it mandatory for all new cars and trucks to come loaded with passive, virtually imperceptible alcohol detection systems by 2024.
Reduced driving for everyone from 2019, called the RIDE Act, would also allocate $ 10 million to continue state-funded research on new breath and touch-based sensors designed to monitor a driver's blood alcohol levels in real time, without the driver doing anything . The measure would set aside another $ 25 million to install and test the technology in government-owned fleets.
The bill follows a similar effort in the House of Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan.
Udall said he has been haunted by the pain and devastation of drunk driving accidents affecting families for decades. "When you meet families, and when you see the devastation it brings, it's something that really moves you," he said in an interview.
During the 1990s, when Udall was New Mexico's state attorney, he complained about how he could reduce the state's crash-related crashes, which at that time were the highest in the country per capita.
"We were trying to wonder, how do we get out of this?" he remembered.
The answer, at least in part, was technology. New Mexico became one of the first states to require convicted drunken drivers to use a breathing apparatus to start a car.
and procurement from the automotive industry. He urges carmakers to work together and other lawmakers to commit to a five-year plan to develop less cumbersome and more consumer-friendly devices.
Helen Witty, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also noted the auto industry's reluctance to mandate safety improvements.
"I don't think the industry wanted to add airbags or seat belts," Witty said. "Think about how they … were a struggle to get through."
But now, she said, several companies have cameras that warn drivers if they appear impaired or have seen the look of the road. These types of advancements have given Witty hope that car manufacturers will be persuaded by consumers who want more safety features.
But she is impatient for that to happen. In 2000, Witty's 16-year-old daughter was killed by another teenager who had had too many tequila shots and was driving 65 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. According to Witty, the young driver, who was drunk and full of marijuana, lost "control of her car and spun off the road into the bike lane" where her daughter rolled.
"And then my daughter, Helen Marie, looked up and saw the car coming towards her, and there was nothing she could do other than die," Witty said.
It's a tragic story that Witty has been telling for years to educate the audience. She hopes the message will help you spare other families.
"Not only did her life end, the life we had as a family ended … We had to figure out how we should live again, "she added.
The deaths of drunk driving have dropped significantly since the 1980s. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they still account for about one-third of all traffic deaths. in cases of drunk driving.
Since 2008, the federal government has spent $ 50 million on a project between NHTSA and a car manufacturer group called Automotive Coaliti on for Traffic Safety to develop Driver Alcohol Safety Detection System.
The efforts are overseen by Robert Strassburger, who represents the automakers. He expects a breath-type product to be ready for licensing by next year. While the ultimate goal of the project is aimed at creating something that detects alcohol without the driver having done anything, Strassburger said, they are not there yet. After more than a decade of work, scientists have managed to develop a more streamlined version of a breathing apparatus – a small device built into the driver's side that the driver blows in.
However, the device cannot detect a precise level of alcohol in the blood yet. Instead, it can only determine the presence of alcohol, Strassburger said.
So it can't see the difference between someone who has had one glass of wine and someone who has had four photos with whiskey. Still, Strassburger said, there is already a market for the device, including trucking companies with zero tolerance for their drivers or parents with underage children.
Strassburger says there is plenty of speed to make cars with technology that keeps dangerous drivers off the road.
The question is how it will happen and when.