What Would It Look Like if Cars Could Stop Drunk Driving?
According to a report by NPR.org, a team of bi-partisan senators introduced legislation last week that would require all new cars and trucks to come built with alcohol detection systems by 2024. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 (RIDE ACT), would also benefit government funded research into new breath and touch-based sensors that monitor a driver’s blood alcohol level in real-time to the tune of $10 million and allocate an additional $25 million to test and implement the technology in government-owned fleets.
Sponsoring senator, Tom Udall of New Mexico, has expressed frustration over the automobile industry’s lack of interest in installing consumer friendly devices that could save thousands of lives every year. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) President Hellen Witty sees reason for hope as several car companies have installed cameras that warn drivers if they seem to be impaired or have taken their eyes off the road.
Since 2008, the federal government has spent $50 million on a project between NHTSA and an automaker group called Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. Out of this effort, researchers have developed a small breathalyzer built into the driver-side door that the driver blows into. The device can only detect alcohol in the bloodstream, not a precise blood-alcohol level. More work needs to be done to reach the ultimate goals of creating a device that doesn’t require the driver to do anything for blood-alcohol to be detected and that can detect a precise blood-alcohol level. This device could be useful for customers like trucking companies who have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol, however.
2017 drunk driving statistics
Public education campaigns have been very effective in reducing drunk driving fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol impaired-driving deaths dropped by seven percent from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,874 in 2017. Still, drunk driving accidents accounted for about one third of all traffic deaths in 2017 and took the lives of 10,874 people.
- Of the 10,874 people who were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2017, 61 percent of drivers had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
- The remaining deaths consisted of 28 percent occupants and 11 percent non-occupants.
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