New Anti-Drunk Driving Technology to be Aware Of

drunk man getting ready to drive in Montgomery, AL

The NHTSA estimates roughly 28 people are killed every day in the United States due to drunk driving. Due to the staggering numbers, federal transportation agencies are developing rules requiring auto manufacturers to include drunk driving detection systems designed to detect whether a driver is intoxicated.

Advocates for mandatory anti-drunk driving technology believe that preventing drunk drivers from starting or driving a vehicle can significantly reduce the number of fatalities from drunk driving accidents.

New Law Mandates the Usage of Anti-Drunk Driving Technology for New Cars

A 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that about a quarter of drunk driving crash deaths could be prevented by mandatory driver intoxication detection systems in cars. The study also noted a survey that found that about two-thirds of drivers would support the mandated inclusion of such systems in all vehicles if they were accurate, unobtrusive, and did not noticeably delay starting up a vehicle.

This initiative was part of the Infrastructure Investment Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in late 2021. A component of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other federal agencies to develop rules mandating various types of safety technologies for motor vehicles. The new technologies detailed in the law include systems designed to prevent drunk drivers from even starting up a car.

These systems would prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver is intoxicated and cause an intoxicated driver to pull over and stop the car. These proposed anti-drunk driving car safety systems are intended to reduce the number of alcohol-involved motor vehicle deaths significantly.

When Can We Expect to Have this New Anti-Drunk Driving Technology in Our Cars?

The law specifically requires the NHTSA to finalize rules for mandatory anti-drunk driving technology in new passenger vehicles within three years of the law’s passage, or by 2024. The law further states that automakers should have two years from when the finalized rules are issued to begin including the mandated technology in newly manufactured vehicles.

This means the earliest we might expect to see anti-drunk driving technology included in new vehicles is 2026. However, the law also allows NHTSA officials to delay issuing final rules and extend the timeline under which automakers must start including mandated drunk driving detection systems in new vehicles.

Industry experts suggest that federal agencies and automakers likely will not hit the earliest deadline of 2026 for implementing anti-drunk driving technologies in new cars. The anti-drunk driving technologies contemplated by the infrastructure bill would be passive systems, not requiring the driver to do anything besides simply starting their vehicle. However, passive intoxicated driver detection systems are still only on the drawing board or in early testing phases.

Proposed systems for drunk driving detection could include the following:

  • Sensors that can register the presence of alcohol on a driver’s breath as they exhale normally
  • Sweat sensor on the steering wheel
  • An infrared sensor in the start button that can read blood alcohol content
  • Cameras designed to detect signs of intoxication in the driver’s body movements
  • Use of existing sensors in the vehicle’s systems to register erratic or reckless driving behaviors

Nationwide Drunk Driving Statistics

Initial reports from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that road-related fatalities from the last year are the highest they’ve been in 15 years. According to the NHTSA, the most recently reported year saw 10,142 deaths caused by drunk driving. This is 28 percent of the fatalities suffered that year. They estimate that someone dies in a drunk driving accident roughly every 50 minutes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there are over 100 million self-reported alcohol-impaired driving episodes in a year.

The hope is these new systems and initiatives connected to the Infrastructure Investment Bill will reduce these sobering drunk driving statistics. Specifically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s recent study estimates that alcohol-detection systems can save over 9,000 lives a year. This is why they believe anti-drunk driving car safety systems will become an “important part of the overall strategy to reduce impaired driving.”

Injured by a Drunk Driver? Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys in Montgomery, AL Now

If you’ve suffered injuries and losses in a motor vehicle accident that a drunk driver caused, it’s important to get legal representation and hold that driver responsible for their actions. At Stokes Stemle, LLC, our drunk driving accident attorneys are focused on helping people whose lives have been turned upside down by serious injuries due to the negligence of drunk drivers.

You deserve to seek financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact the Montgomery, AL car accident attorneys of Stokes Stemle, LLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you understand your legal rights and options for your case moving forward.