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Drunk Driving Prevention Aimed at Vehicles

David Strickland and Ray LaHood

photo from Fast Lane, the official blog of Ray Lahood

My mom was killed by a drunk driver in 1996 – 15 years ago this month. She crashed head-on with a drunk driver who was traveling on the wrong side of the interstate. Both my mom and the other driver were killed instantly. I was relieved to know she died instantly, because her truck then flipped and burst into flames. She would have been unable to escape. Needless to say, I am always interested to see new laws and technology to prevent these disasters from happening. Stronger laws, better enforcements and more public awareness has been credited to a 20 percent decline in drunk driving-related fatalities in just the last three years (40 percent in the last three decades), but it is exciting to see prevention being taken a step further – inside vehicles.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland announced new technology being developed by QinetiQ which can register blood alcohol levels by touch or breath. The system, called DADSS, can prevent a vehicle from being started if it detects too much alcohol.  While the system isn’t expected to be in the marketplace for another eight to ten years, it is great to see this progress. There may be a day where every car is equipped with a device like this, and if it stops drunk driving I am happy to see it on the horizon.

5 comments on “Drunk Driving Prevention Aimed at Vehicles
  1. Howard Merkle says:

    Quite honestly I don’t understand why our government is spending millions upon millions of dollars developing a technology that only recognizes a person blood alcohol level when this same government agency just issued a study showing that more people are drugged driving than drunk driving. I also don’t understand why they would put money behind this type of technology when there already is a technology that knows when a person is impaired (which is what we should be focused on – not just what their BAC level is – as people become impaired at different levels) like Cleared2Drive. In the 8 or 10 years they estimate it taking to enter the marketplace, Cleared2Drive could have already saved thousands of lives.

    • Stacey Tisdale says:

      Thanks for your comment, Howard. I agree with you all DUI drivers should be targeted. It appears the biggest issue with the Cleared2Drive is the time it takes to go through the 5-step process and it will work only in the most impaired cases. The search for something more convenient and accepted to the mass public seems to be what is driving this research.

  2. Howard Merkle says:

    Actually Stacy, it only takes seconds (typically less than 10 according to their Cleared2Drive’s website) to complete the Cleared2Drive screening process which is a LOT less than the 1-2 minutes it takes to start a vehicle with a breathalyzer. I am not sure where you got the idea that it only works in the most impaired cases as that is not my experience with this technology at all and clearly not what they state on their web site. I installed one on my now 21 year son;s vehicle before he left for college ( he was 19 when we had the unit installed) not because he has had a DUI but because I wanted assurance that I would not be receiving that 2am phone call every parent fears. We have been extremely pleased with the results, it has worked just as Cleared2Drive said it would and has on more than one occasion prevented him from driving after having “just two beers” or so he claimed.

    Do you also have first hand knowledge of this technology? If so, I would like to hear your how and why you purchased a units and if it has lived up to your expectations.

    Also, if anyone knows how this technology they are proposing is going to address the issue of the fact that many studies have proven that it takes a minimum of 45 minutes after reaching a certainly BAC level for it to register in a person’s sweat glands in their hands I would certainly be interested in hearing about it. I would think that most people drinking and driving do it within just a few miles from their home and would be home before the technology would/could detect the BAC level.

    Is the Cleared2Drive system the end all, be all, no. But I do think it is far superior to what the government is proposing.

    • Stacey Tisdale says:

      Hi Howard, Please know I am not advocating one system over another. I am advocating improved technology and I don’t think there will ever be an end all, be all. That is not to say the Cleared2Drive or even a breathalyzer is bad technology, but there is always something to improve on as these systems gain acceptance and integration into everyday life.

      I couldn’t quickly find studies regarding the average time lapse of a person who has been drinking deciding to get into a vehicle, but it could be interesting to know. And, if the touch technology can work reliably, why couldn’t it one day be built into the car where the average driver wouldn’t even know it was there. We could one day have a phone app to test impairment. If you can start a car from your phone, why not?

  3. Rachael Palmer says:

    This article displays the effects drunk driving can have on not just the driver but others as well. Because of the mans poor decision, him and another women’s life was taken. New systems should keep being developed in order to prevent horrible tragedies caused by ignorant teens. Also, teenagers need to take precaution and not drive under the influence.

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