Drunk

What if cars could stop you from driving drunk? A peek at the latest tech

Car keys are shown by glasses with alcohol in this stock photo illustration. Companies are developing technology that would allow cars to stop people from driving when drunk.

Car keys are shown by glasses with alcohol in this stock photo illustration. Companies are developing technology that would allow cars to stop people from driving when drunk.

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

It’s an idea that could mark a pretty revolutionary change for vehicle safety: What if our cars could prevent drunk driving?

The recent infrastructure law included a provision mandating that, starting in a few years, all new cars must include some sort of technology to detect and prevent drunk driving.

Some companies were already racing to figure out how to do this. Now, it’s going to be required.

“I actually think this particular technology could save more lives than airbags,” says David Harkey, the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “We’re talking about more than 10,000 people that are losing their lives annually as a result of

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Car companies will soon be required to install drunk driving technology

Congress is hoping to mandate car manufacturers to implement drunk and impaired driving prevention technology as part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

Every day about 28 people in the U.S. die of drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2019, a little over 10,000 Americans died from drunk-driving crashes.

The estimated economic cost for alcohol-impaired driving in 2010 was $44 billion.

Congress is trying to change those fatal statistics by imploring car manufacturers along with NHTSA to implement new driver safety standards. The legislation outlines what it would like new technology to look like, including passively monitoring the performance of a driver to identify whether or not they may be impaired. 

It also suggests preventing or limiting cars from operating if an impairment is detected and enabling cars to detect a driver’s blood alcohol concentration.


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Every Car Made After 2027 May Have Drunk Driving Monitoring System

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Moveable explores the future of transportation, infrastructure, energy, and cities.

Buried deep in the 2,700-page bipartisan infrastructure bill is a provision that mandates all cars manufactured from 2027 onwards be equipped with a drunk driver monitoring system, in the hopes of ending a behavior that results in about 10,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. If passed with this provision, the bill would give a firm release date to a research program the federal government and an automotive industry group have collaborated on for more than a decade.

Since 2008, an alphabet soup of acronym organizations have been working on a public-private partnership to invent a new technology that can prevent drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partnered with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), an industry group representing all the major automakers, to form the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program, which goes

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