Drunk driving remains a problem in search of a solution. Currently, drivers under the influence are the number one cause of injuries or death nationwide. As with anything in today’s modern age, technology may represent a long-awaited solution. The automobile is a competitive industry. However, officials may be forced to put down their proverbial plowshares and embrace technology to make roads nationwide safer.
Stunning sobriety test data reveals drunk driving accounting for close to 14,00 fatalities out of overall deaths at 42,939 in 2021, according to the Institute for Highway Safety.
A long-awaited mandate
For the first time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently submitted an advanced notice of a proposed rule involving anti-drunk driving technology. Every new vehicle may include built-in inebriation detection that could take the form of an interlock device once exclusive to those convicted of DUIs.
Currently, many vehicles have onboard cameras that detect drowsiness, track a driver’s eyes, and use sensors and onboard cameras to identify and warn drivers veering out of lane makers. The trick with what would essentially be a breathalyzer is to find one performance standard that will be effective over the long term in detecting impairment.
A work in progress
The NHTSA admits that BAC is not reliable in determining impairment by alcohol. A system would have to account for differences that include driver’s size and weight, not to mention alcohol tolerance. Breath tests can be done within a car, but more accurate blood tests are currently not a viable alternative.
Determining the level of impairment presents significant challenges, with false positives potentially undermining the effectiveness of the technology. Time will tell if more sophisticated technology can help keep roads and the sober drivers who travel them safe.