Each year in the U.S., about 10,000 people die in drunk driving accidents, according to the NHTSA. In an effort to put a dent in this startling number of completely preventable deaths, Congress is making a push with an anti-drunk driving provision for new cars in its infrastructure bill. The proposed legislation, if passed, will require automakers to include technology that detects and stops drunk drivers in motor vehicles by as early as 2026. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts for over two decades, Attorney David Tapalian has seen the devastation families suffer when a loved one is injured or killed by a drunk driver.
How Can Vehicle Technology Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents?
With an infinite number of safety options available in today’s newest vehicles, from sensors and cameras that detect pedestrians to approaching cars in a motorist’s blind spot, it seems logical that some type of anti-drunk driving technology would be an addition to the large menu of options. Yet, the critical question remains of exactly how to prevent drunk driving crashes with the latest in technology. The proposed bill isn’t exact, but calls for something that will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired”. Studies will need to be conducted involving various alcohol detection systems before recommendations are provided to auto manufacturers. Infrared cameras are one example, and are currently being utilized by car manufacturers like GM and Nissan. The camera looks for signs of a lack of driver alertness, such as drowsiness or impairment, and if identified, warns the driver and if need be, takes further action. Another idea tested by Volvo involves alcohol sensors that detect a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the air inside the vehicle. Ultimately, the Department of Transportation will have to make the final call as to what is the best solution to put a damper on intoxicated drivers.