Drink-driving problem could be solved with tech in future cars

8 Jun 2015

Despite increasing efforts to curb the prevalence of drink-driving, every year we hear horror stories of accidents caused by it, but new car technology is attempting to stop it right at the source.

Technology that allows a car to detect that the driver is beyond the legal alcohol limit has been on the cards for some time now, but it has yet to make the transition from concept to reality.

Now, however, news from the US and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that they are working with a number of major car manufacturers to develop an alcohol-detection system that will stop drunk drivers from taking to the roads.

According to The Guardian, the technology is called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) and will include a breathalyser located in the base of the steering wheel.

Aside from monitoring the driver’s breath, cars installed with DADSS will have an ignition button to start the car, which will shine infrared light through the person’s fingertip, thereby measuring their blood alcohol level.

DADSS to the rescue

So far, 17 companies, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Nissan, are on board with developing DADSS, but the NHTSA has stated that it doesn’t believe the US government will make it a mandatory requirement for cars.

It does however see it entering into the cars of partner manufacturers within the next five years.

NHTSA spokesperson Mark Rosekind said: “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety 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.”

Blurry road image via Peter Roome/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic