Plans to develop smart cars, which would refuse to start if the driver had exceeded the drink-drive limit have commenced in the US.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is working closely with leading car makers such as Ford, GM and Volkswagen to develop an alcohol detection system for vehicles in the hope that this would cut down the number of accidents caused each year through drink driving. Alcohol related traffic collisions account for an estimated 10,000 deaths on US roads a year and although figures in the UK are much lower at 230, it is still a statistic that could be avoided altogether if people were to abide by the current drink-drive regulations.
In an ideal world people would follow these regulations, but because it seems there are the small minority who don’t, it has become increasingly necessary to allow technology to take charge of the situation. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Education, awareness and enforcement have succeeded in dramatically reducing drunk driving fatalities, but the advanced technology of DADSS brings enormous potential to save even more lives.” The DADDS system he refers to stands for Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety and includes a steering wheel-mounted breathalyser with an engine start button that can detect blood alcohol level via an infrared light. Amazingly, the system is able to detect alcohol levels simply by testing the drivers normal breathing or through touch on the wheel or start button
The system has been installed in prototype vehicles and undergoing numerous tests with a view to hopefully being made an available option to new cars within the next five years. Toyota have already been working on their own similar systems for about a decade so it is becoming increasingly likely that the cars of our future will feature this form of safety technology as standard.