Will Congress Mandate Anti-Drunk Driving Technology?

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It’s no secret that drunk driving sharply increases the number of car accidents on the road.
Congress is trying to pass a $78 billion transportation bill. If it succeeds, all vehicles would have to install mandated anti-drunk driving technology.
A sticker shows a crossed out cocktail glass and car keys.
Drunk driving is one of the deadliest mistakes a person can make.

Potentially life-saving legislation on drunk driving

Car and Driver reported on the bipartisan surface transportation bill that the U.S. Congress has been working on.
Drunk driving results in more than 10,000 deaths a year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It costs more than $44 billion in damages annually and can lead to messy court cases.
The bill aims to create a new “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology safety standard.” That means all new vehicles would need to have some sort of anti-drunk driving tech installed.
Of course, even if the bill is signed, there would be a three-year breathing room before the mandate goes into effect.
The bill’s primary aim is to improve transportation needs and safety. Thus, it also provides funding for Amtrak and electric vehicles.
Drunk driving is a bipartisan issue, so there have been attempts to end drunk driving for years now. This bill echoes the purpose of legislation introduced in 2019, which was meant to install alcohol detection systems by 2024.

Mandated anti-drunk driving technology

Currently, ride-share services are a great way to avoid drinking and driving yourself. Having a designated driver has also been a classic way to reduce the risks of getting into DUI accidents.
There are many ways to avoid drinking and driving, but mandated tech could be the most fool-proof prevention method.
The bill doesn’t specify the exact kind of technology vehicles would have to install. As long as it is deemed effective by NHTSA, it will meet the requirement.
Several kinds of anti-impaired driving technology already exist.
Ignition-interlock devices with breathalyzers can detect if someone who has been drinking is trying to start the car. In the U.S., these devices are already used by people convicted of DUI.
Car and Driver theorizes on what the technology might look like by taking a look at concept cars.
A Nissan concept from 2007 used a sensor in the transmission shift knob to detect alcohol in the driver’s perspiration. Sensors in the car could also detect alcohol in the air. Even if the system could not detect alcohol, it would also monitor driving behavior.
If the Nissan detected signs of drunk driving while the car was in motion, the car would automatically tighten seatbelts in preparation for a crash.
Of course, that is all tech from more than a decade ago. If the bill is introduced today, the anti-impaired driving systems would no doubt be more advanced and effective.
There are already driver-assist and autopilot systems out there that can slow a car down to a safe stop if they detect abnormal situations. It would not be a stretch to say that anti-drunk driving systems could do so as well.

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