Featured News 2020 High-Tech Idea to Combat Drunk Driving

High-Tech Idea to Combat Drunk Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol-impaired driving kills about 29 people a day. That’s a fatality every 50 minutes. Alcohol-impaired crashes caused 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Both legal and illegal drugs combined are involved in 16% of motor vehicle accidents, meaning an enormous section of vehicle accidents in the U.S. involve substance-impairment of some kind.

But what if we could ensure that an impaired driver (whether from drinking or drugs or lack of sleep) would never be able to operate a vehicle at all?

Infrared BAC-Measuring Devices by 2024?

In October 2019, CNET reported that a bipartisan effort between Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) would require every car to come with technology that would prevent cars from starting if the driver is over the legal limit. The legislation has been proposed in light of technology that could measure a driver’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) from infrared lights in the steering wheel or the push-button ignition.

Theoretically, these infrared lights would read a driver’s BAC through their fingertips; if the BAC is too high, the car will not start. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has actually invested millions of dollars to develop this technology, which is being tested in various states.

Similar legislation is currently in the House right now, and the law mandates that all new cars have anti-drunk driving devices on them by 2024. While it’s unclear how much that would cost, the NHTSA has calculated that drunk driving costs the country $200 billion every year.

Devices like this aren’t without their critics, however.

Representatives at the American Beverage Institute have said that if BAC-measuring technology is placed in cars, it will make it near impossible for adults to go out to eat and get a glass of wine at dinner. Many individuals would be paranoid that their car wouldn’t start. The American Beverage Institute writes that mandatory BAC-measuring technology would make social drinking obsolete.

How Ride-Sharing Could Influence the Conversation

As a counter-point, however, the use of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are more common than they were even five years ago. Getting a ride is more affordable and convenient than ever; in fact, calling an Uber or Lyft is already a part of American culture. In 2018, nearly half of the US population reported using a ride-sharing service, many of them in situations where they were going out to drink or were coming home from a night of drinking.

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