Each year, about 10,000 people are killed, tens of thousands are injured, and $132 billion are lost as a result of drunk driving. While the increased use of ignition interlocks has helped reduce drunk driving, drunk driving-related deaths, and repeat offenses, thousands of people continue to be killed or injured at the hands of drunk drivers.
However, an advanced in-vehicle alcohol detection system currently being researched and developed by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could potentially eliminate drunk driving by automatically detecting whether or not the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. If it is, the car will not start.
Funded by automakers through the ACTS and the federal government, the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) will potentially read the driver’s BAC through his or her fingertips or isolate and test the air exhaled by the driver. Both are currently being studied. However, in a speech he made in August, NHTSA Chief David Strickland estimated that another five years of research are needed before cars equipped with DADSS can be on the road.
Earlier that month, Strickland wrote to CEOs of major carmakers to let them know that research on and development of DADSS is showing great progress. He also thanked them for their funding and urged the auto industry to continue supporting research on the in-vehicle system. Congress approved $5.3 million towards research for this budget year and has already approved slightly more for the next budget year, which begins October 1.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving strongly supports the development of the technologically advanced system. In fact, support of the funding and development of DADSS is one of the three steps that MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving focuses on. Since the Campaign’s launch in 2006, DADSS has reached its second phase of development. Alongside the NHTSA, the nonprofit will continue to urge automakers and the government to fund the potentially life-saving project.
Learn more about DADSS at www.dadss.org.