Drunk driving takes the lives of more than 10,000 people annually in the U.S. alone.
To this extent, the U.S. National Department of Transportation’s National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working closely with automakers to implement a new life-saving technology.
During a Washington D.C. based event, the NHTSA showcased a prototype vehicle that already had the the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) effectively implemented. The DADSS can go a long way into saving lives simply by blocking the car if any whiff of alcohol is sensed in the driver’s breath or in his blood.
Accurate estimations suggest that up to 7,000 lives annually could be saved if the new technology is implemented in all new cars. As it stands, DADSS is still in its incipient development phases, yet five years from now we could have the option or legally imposed obligation to purchase a vehicle that features DADSS.
There are two different systems working on detecting alcohol concentration in blood currently developed. Both are tweaked to sense any concentration of 0.08, which is the legal limit across all 50 states.
The first package that is in the process of development by Autoliv Development, Sweden suggests the implementation of breath sensors in the steering wheel. A driver’s breath can easily be analyzed by the tech toolkit, making use of infrared light.
A simple algorithm is set in place that is meant to differentiate between carbon dioxide molecules and alcohol molecules. Each type absorbs the light at specific wavelengths and the sensor could easily work on that.
The second DADSS package also works on infrared beams. Only this time the technology developed by Takata in collaboration with TruTouch aims at analyzing the driver’s blood when the fingertips touch the infrared sensors place on the steering wheel.
Encouraging testimonies as to the life saving DADSS came from a number of industry representative, as well as the administrator of NHTSA, Mark Rosekind:
“It has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths”.
As the technology is still in the making, no clear outcome is yet on the horizon. The developers of DADSS are envisaging a system that would become optional like any safety tweak the likes of Emergency Break Assist.
DADSS is significantly supported by automakers and groups across the U.S. The American Beverage Institute and Mother’s Against Drunk Driving are just two names of supporters from a long list.
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