More than 10,000 lives are lost on U.S. highways annually due to drunk drivers. That number is unacceptable and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is joining forces with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety in an effort to combat this problem and make streets and highways safer. The organizations are investing millions in researching modern technology and determining how it can be used to keep drunk drivers from driving.
The focus is on developing devices that will be installed in all vehicles in all states, including Florida. The device will detect whether or not drivers are alcohol impaired. If so, their car will not start. The devices can test by breath or touch and convert the test results into blood alcohol content levels. The goal is to prevent all drunk drivers from driving, thereby making the roads safer for everyone. The NTSB has made the following recommendations.
1) Require all states to mandate alcohol detection devices for everyone convicted of an alcohol driving offense.
Currently, approximately one-third of states require a device to be installed on cars of first time drunk-driving offenders. Every single time they try to start their car, they have to first breathe into an alcohol detection device that has been manually installed on their car. If they cannot pass the test, they cannot start their car. The NTSB is encouraging all states to pass this law and require everyone convicted of an alcohol related driving offense to have the alcohol ignition device installed.
2) The NTSB is researching the possibility of equipping all cars with DADSS.
The NTSB is encouraging more research on types of driver alcohol detection systems for safety (DADSS) that test the blood alcohol content by touch as well as breath. The organization recommends that the new device be installed on all cars. It is a more sophisticated device than the ignition device control system.
* The touch test measures the alcohol level in tissue.
* The breath test is similar to what is now used, but will have sensors installed in the car that can determine for sure it is the driver’s breath that is being tested and not the breath of another passenger.
The device converts the touch and breath tests to blood alcohol levels.
Every year, at least 300 people die in wrong-way collisions. The NTSB says that 60 percent of those collisions are caused by alcohol impaired drivers. Over half of those had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit. The proposed DADSS will prevent those deaths.
3) Proposed device requirements.
In order to be acceptable, the devices will have to meet certain criteria:
* They must not interfere with sober drivers’ ability to start their cars.
* They must be able to determine blood alcohol content with accuracy.
* They must be able to perform the test rapidly.
* They must be small and unobtrusive.
* They must be maintenance-free.
There is some opposition to installing these devices. Some are concerned that the device may malfunction and make it impossible for sober people to start their cars. Others point out that alcohol impaired people can have a “designated test taker” to start their car. Another concern is that the simple fear that their cars will not start will prevent social drinkers from having even one glass of wine with dinner.