Moving Towards a DUI-free Future?

Technology is constantly evolving, and methods aimed at bettering life are always being introduced, created and updated. Which is never more true than right now, when technologies aimed at eliminating drunk driving are right on the horizon. But is everyone excited about this new step towards a DUI-free future? And why might it be less than ideal?

New technology, which has been under development for several years now, would allow a vehicle to sense if it’s driver is drunk before they put anyone at risk. The system, called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), uses dual sensors located inside the vehicle to detect a person’s blood alcohol count.

One sensor, the breath-based sensor, detects the alcohol molecules present in the driver’s breath. The second sensor, the touch-based sensor, uses infrared tissue spectroscopy which allows the sensor to measure the intensity of the light particles absorbed by alcohol. Together they work in concert to narrow down the driver’s blood alcohol content. If the driver’s BAC exceeds the limit prescribed by the law, the car will automatically shut down.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently unveiled a prototype car which comes equipped with this new technology. Created in concert with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, the technology will allow researchers to test driver interaction with the system. The plan, they say, is to test and develop this technology over the next five years, so that it can be ready for incorporation into standardized vehicles by 2020.

According to the NHTSA, about 28 people die every single day around the country as a result of drunk driving. That amounts to a staggering 10,000 or more people every year. Could this new technology stop these tragic deaths? Reduce the number of drunk driving accidents in our future? Save lives? Reduce the chances of being charged with a DUI? Possibly.

But while many people, including the NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation and members of Congress, are excited about this new development, some people are unsure. Will already expensive newer cars be even pricier with this new technology? And what happens if the technology malfunctions and sober drivers are stuck with cars that don’t start every time?

Does the presence of a non-driving drunk person in the vehicle, whose breath could be detected by the sensor, increase the risk of the vehicle refusing to start for a sober driver? Only time will tell whether or not this technology is as accurate, and as ethical, as early reports are claiming.

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