New Technology May Stop DUIs Before They Happen
Researchers are working on a new technology that would prevent drunk drivers from being able to get behind the wheel in the first place.
Technology is amazing. It has brought us computers, smart phones and voice recognition software. It makes our lives easier, more enjoyable and even safer. Now, researchers hope it can stop drunk driving, too.
Despite all the public service announcements, the police checkpoints and the threat of arrest, drunk driving continues to be involved in one-third of traffic-related deaths in the US, adding up to a tragic 11,000 deaths per year. But soon that could all be just a bad dream.
A new alcohol-sensing technology is currently in development and could be required to be installed by all automakers in the future. The technology works by detecting alcohol in a driver’s breath or skin. Tissue spectrometry employs a laser touchpad to detect alcohol in human tissue, while distant spectrometry uses sniff tests to gauge alcohol levels on a driver’s breath.
This latest advance is a big step forward from the current “interlock” system that some states currently require for convicted drunk drivers, which consists of drivers blowing into a tube that determines their blood alcohol level is below the legal limit before allowing the car to start. These devices can easily be circumvented by having another individual blow into the tube, plus they are only installed after someone has already been arrested for driving while intoxicated. This new technology would be installed in all cars, potentially stopping DUIs before they happen.
The adage that nothing in life is free definitely applies here. The potential fix comes with a hefty price. Research into alcohol-sensing technology has already cost $10 million in five years and researchers want $24 million to continue. And not everyone is a fan. The restaurant industry is worried about malfunctions that could mean that responsible, sober drivers or those who’ve had a single drink could be left stranded after a night out. Also, it only detects alcohol, so we still have drugged drivers to contend with out there on the open road. Still, the price may be worth it if it saves lives and keeps impaired drivers from ever getting behind the wheel.
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