The Power of Technology in Fighting DUI

Technology has literally saved and extended millions of lives. As technology advances, this becomes more and more true. From medical technologies to safety devices, often we take these life-saving gifts for granted. Now there is a new technology that could aid in the war against drunk driving fatalities. Imagine if we could reduce the number of DUI fatalities each year in the US from close to 10,000 to zero! Maybe that just isn’t possible right now, but if the technology that the DADSS program is working on becomes a reality and is eventually integrated with every new car that number could be reduced by a significant amount.

The DADSS program, or the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program, operates in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), which represents the leading automakers. This partnership, made up of players from both the public and private sector, is one of the most important in recent years. The effort has the support of Congress and safety advocates across the nation and represents a unique coalition that could reduce and eventually eliminate drunk driving. All of the research for this technology is overseen by independent engineers and scientists and will include further testing in real-world scenarios prior to being made available as an option for consumers.

This new technology would be seamlessly integrated with automobiles and involved two different types of options. The first, is a sort of onboard breathalyzer, which automatically picks up the alcohol content of from the driver’s natural breathing patterns. The driver does not have to blow into a tube or voluntarily submit to some sort of pre-driving breath test, the car would do this automatically. If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08, the car would not operate. The system would also be able to distinguish between the breath of the passengers and the driver and specifically test only the driver’s BAC.

The second type of system in this research is a touch-based system. This would also be integrated with the car and involve infrared light that can measure BAC through the fingertip. Sensors would be placed on steering wheels or start buttons and could take multiple readings on BAC in less than a second.

It’s hard to imagine that there could be any opponents to such a promising technology that could absolutely save the lives of thousands. The program began back in 2008 and has been progressing forward to the point of taking prototypes into real-world scenarios. If the technology is successful, perhaps there will also be a way to achieve integration older cars as well, further decreasing the incidences of deaths related to this epidemic. For now, the focus is getting the technology approved and integrated with new automobiles. Hopefully there will be minimal roadblocks in getting the necessary approvals and funding to make this happen.  

There is much testing to still be done, but this promises to be a revolutionary advance in the fight against drunk driving.