Safety regulators working to detect drunk drivers image

In Michigan, U.S., federal safety regulators are working with suppliers on a “seamless” technology to detect alcohol by touch and breath in order to reduce or eliminate alcohol-related car crashes.

At the 2013 Management Briefing Seminars, Nat Beuse – associate administrator for vehicle safety research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – said that his agency is studying alcohol detection technology to prevent and lower traffic fatalities. He added that a seamless alcohol detection system integrated into vehicles would decrease the number of alcohol-related fatalities on the U.S. roads.

In 2011 NHTSA awarded a $2.2 million to Takata Corp, a safety products supplier, to develop a device able to measure motorists’ sobriety. Autoliv, another safety products supplier, is working on the sobriety systems. By 2018 the alcohol detection technology could be available. Federal officials said that it remains unknown yet whether the alcohol detection technology would disable a vehicle or just issue an alert.

Beuse stated that automatic emergency braking is an example of newly-implemented technology that promises to reduce the number of future car crashes. A number of automakers have started implementing the automatic braking systems into their vehicles, including Mercedes-Benz.

He said that “Automatic emergency braking has the potential to have a great impact on safety” and that “lots of companies are out there trying to make the situation better.” Automakers have indeed been working on different levels of autonomous driving technologies for decades, but only recently they began implementing those systems into mass market cars.

By Gabriela Florea