Back in December of 2023, auto safety regulators in the United States announced that they would be incorporating a new process in which automaker must follow. The goal of this new process is to establish better preventative technologies which will prevent drunk drivers from having the ability to even start a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration previously released an “advanced notice” of this rule change when it was in its early stages of development. From there, they conducted research to get a proper understanding of what they were dealing with and what type of tech people would feel the most comfortable having.
This notice also included a call for any ideas that anyone may have to offer.
The deputy transportation secretary, Polly Trottenberg, specifically wrote “Please bring your best ideas … let’s join together to advance as quickly as we can the next technology in impaired driving prevention.” Some proposed ideas for the tech include in car blood alcohol content detection, impairment detection, which would be in the form of driver monitoring, and/or a combination of the two.
The safety standard but be set and in practice by November 2024.
This due date comes from a direction Congress made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2021. After over 13,000 deaths occurred involving alcohol impaired drivers in 2021, Congress enforced the NHTSA to create mandatory requirements for technology to be added to vehicles to lower the number of deaths.
There are already a number of technologies in the process of being designed and developed which may do exactly what Congress and the NHTSA are wanting. There are currently tech companies focusing on designing breath and touch based sensors. These would each detect alcohol levels. Another program being worked on is a camera set up that is designed to track eye movements. Based on the eye pattern, the technology would make a determination as to whether or not the driver is intoxicated.
Some people are proposing simply adding a breathalyzer device into cars that is required to be done before a driver can begin to operate the car. This is something that is already done for people who have been convicted of driving under the influence in the past, however experts agree that it is far too invasive to require this procedure for everyone, every time.