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New technology measures BAC of drunk drivers: Part II

In our previous post, we mentioned the unveiling of new technology which would prevent cars from operating when the driver has a BAC of .08 or above. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are big hopes that this technology will greatly reduce the number of deaths and injuries from drunk driving.

Much like lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control, it is hoped that DADSS will help prevent injuries and deaths from crashes, but to an even greater extent since it goes directly to the source of the problem: intoxicated people operating vehicles.

The technology itself is still early in the development stage. No price has been quoted yet for the system, but manufacturers would not be required to install it. NHTSA spokesmen said that it is hoped that insurance companies will create incentives for individual car owners to install the system.

The goal is in fact to eventually equip the technology in passenger vehicles as a standard feature. But the technology is not expected to be commercially available for another eight to ten years, and still has various kinks to be worked out.

Some are concerned that the new technology will be inaccurate as well as overly restrictive for the average driver. There are also concerns that regulators will adopt a conservative and cautious approach to setting the BAC limits on such technology, to the detriment of moderate social drinking. Some in the restaurant industry have expressed concern that alcohol sales will fall dramatically for fear of being unable to drive home.

A spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the organization supports the technology, and hopes that it will contribute to saving lives, along with air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other driver safety technology.

Sources: Wicked Local Waltham, "U.S. transit chief checks out Waltham firm's drunken driving technology," Ignacio Laguarda, 1 Feb 2011.

NPR, "In Future, Cars Might Decide If Driver Is Drunk," Associated Press, 29 Jan 2011.

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