3/4/2014 4:15 PM ET|
It's 2018 and your car knows you're drunk
One day soon, your vehicle could be the one deciding whether you had one too many at happy hour.
One day, a friend might not have to take your car keys away if you overindulge. Instead, it could be up to your car to determine whether you're sober enough to drive.
Researchers now are working on the development of two different technologies that could automatically detect your blood-alcohol content (BAC) either through your touch or your breath.
"There's a lot of promise if a system can be developed that would stop any driver that's been drinking from getting on the road," says Russ Rader, senior vice president for communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently extended its agreement with automobile manufacturers to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The system would detect if your BAC was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent and prevent you from driving if it's too high.
High-tech devices to tell if you're too intoxicated to drive
This technology would be unlike current alcohol-detecting ignition interlock systems, which might be outfitted in someone's vehicle if he's convicted of driving under the influence. Those systems require the driver to blow into a tube and prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.
Rader calls the current devices, "a very clunky system," while the DADSS project is working to develop "unobtrusive detection when a driver is impaired by alcohol."
"It's important that the system be accurate, unobtrusive and completely reliable," Rader says.
The aim is to "stop a drunk driver from getting on the road in the first place, rather than arresting them after the fact, or worse yet, after a crash," he says.
Right now, alcohol is a factor in about one-third of fatal crashes. In 2012, crash deaths involving drunken drivers topped 10,000, up nearly 5 percent from the previous year, according to NHTSA.
J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the DADSS project stems from a five-year, $10 million cooperation agreement signed in 2008 between NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), made up of 15 auto manufacturers.
The program was extended for five years at the end of 2013 and the groups committed $6.5 million more to support the research.
MADD is one of the organizations with representatives on the blue ribbon panel formed to advise DADSS.
Challenges on designing touch-based, breath-based alcohol monitoring devices
The hope is to have a research vehicle, equipped with both the touch-based technology and the breath-based technology, completed in early 2015.
Among the issues for researchers are where to locate the touch-based sensor, Griffin says. Possibilities include the push-button start, gear shift or steering wheel shaft.
Researchers also have to determine where to locate the breath-based sensor. It will need to be able to discern between the breath of the driver and passengers, he says.
And they have to tackle issues such as how the touch technology will work if someone is wearing gloves, and how the breath technology will work in a convertible, Griffin says.
It's also not yet clear if vehicles would be equipped with one type of technology, or both, he says.
Another issue will be how to ensure the technology holds up in the harsh environment of a vehicle, which can be subjected to wildly different weather conditions, Rader says.
"It's still very much a research project," Griffin says. "I think at the end of the day they will figure out the technology and figure out how to make it work."
Cars that know you're drunk available by 2018?
Griffin says researchers hope the technology will be commercially viable by the time the latest five-year agreement between NHTSA and auto manufacturers expires in 2018.
The technology is most likely to be integrated into new vehicles, rather than being retrofitted into older models, he says.
And if it follows the path of other technological breakthroughs, high-end cars would be equipped with it first, and then it would trickle down to less expensive vehicle, Griffin says.
Rader says the hope is that once the technology is viable, it would soon be widely available, and drive down the rate of alcohol-related fatalities.
In the early 1980s, about half of those killed in traffic accidents involved drunken driving. By the mid-1990s it had fallen to about one-third of fatalities, but has stalled at that level.
It's not clear why progress stalled in the 1990s, and Rader says officials hope "this (technology) could jump start the process."
Successful development of technology would not only help save lives, it would also prevent you from climbing behind the wheel when you've drunk too much and be cited for DUI.
Auto insurance rates are likely to double or even triple if you're convicted of DUI. You're also likely to spend time in jail, lose your license and be fined, according to Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at CarInsurance.com.
This move to prevent drunk driving comes at a time when more states are considering legalizing medical marijuana, Colorado is now allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, and Washington will soon follow suit.
Rader says so far evidence has been mixed on the effects of marijuana on crash risk. "Alcohol-impaired driving is by far the bigger problem."
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Eff this puke country! The puke gov't will mandate this eventually. This shiethole nation will bust up before that - hopefully! That way the Utopia loving communist libtards can destroy their own GD country! When Cali colapses in on itself, the country of midwestern states can invade it like putin did in southern Ukraine.
Then we enslave the suckers of cali and make them pedal bicycles to generate our clean and green electricity for the rest of their pathetic lives. Feed them just enough to keep them pedaling!
I don't understand why so much time, effort, and cash is being spent on something that people who regularly take the wheel while intoxicated will find their way around eventually. Just develop a car that has an autopilot function to get you home after you have had too much to drink, and the roads will be safe for everyone. I suppose then local municipalities will have to find a different infraction to fine the gills out of people on.
Drunks will figure away around it, just like they have someone breath into
their unit the DMV installs after a DUI.
as much as I detest Drunk drivers. I DO NOT WANT TO BE FORCED TO HAVE THIS IN ANY NEW CAR I BUY. Only drivers convicted of DUI who are at risk should ever be forced to have this.
What is next, have the car "verify" that you are "legal" to drive by a thumbprint??
I will stick with my older car than these NOSY new cars.
IMO, DUI arrests are just ways for the legal system to make money, not really about keeping the roads safe. Therefore, expect lots of fines from the state, lawyer fees, and then afterwards insurance premium increases.
You can lower your legal fees by finding a good and cheap lawyer, and you can find an auto insurance company that won't check your driving history (check Insurance Panda) to lessen the blow, but no matter what, you will probably have to pay a lot of money to "the system". Good luck.
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