New technology displayed in Washington D.C. on Saturday could prove to become a key in lowering the number of DUI offenses throughout the country, as it can make cars identify when a drunk driver gets at the wheel and refuse to start.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Admnistration presented a prototype vehicle which features a system known as Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADDS). The system is capable of detecting the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood and will proceed to disable all of the car’s functions should it pass the national legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The system is still under development and it currently has two primary ways of identifying DUI cases. The first one is a system which analyzes the driver’s breath, developed by Swedish company Autoliv Development. This places a sensor on the steering wheel which measures the percentage of alcohol and carbon dioxide from a driver’s breath through infrared beams (the logic being that both absorb infrared radiation, but alcohol molecules do so only at a specific wavelength which makes them separable for carbon dioxide).
Note that there already some prototypes who use detection through alcohol concentration in the air, but they require drivers to breathe of their own will into in-built breathalyzers, a process they can easily choose to avoid.
The second system still involves infrared lights, but this time it will analyze the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood through the means of a touch-based system. In this variant, an infrared sensor mounted on the top of the start button or somewhere on the steering wheel. With fast accurate readings of the blood inside the fingertip, this system is in theory even more reliable than the breath-based one and will immediately block all functions of the car. It is being developed in collaboration by automotive company Takata and alcohol detection by infrared spectroscopy experts TruTouch.
“DADSS 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” declared NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosenkind.
At the moment though, there are no plans to make this technology mandatory in the future; however, it is due for completion in about five years’ time and will then be available for personal purchase.
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