US Regulators Move toward Mandating Surveillance in Cars to ‘Detect Drunk Drivers’

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US Regulators Move toward Mandating Surveillance in Cars to 'Detect Drunk Drivers'

Auto safety regulators announced on Tuesday that new cars in the United States may soon be required to have surveillance technology that detects drunk or impaired driving.

The advanced notice will help set potential alcohol-impairment detection technology in all new vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) said.

Such detection devices are required as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Congress passed in 2021.

Polly Trottenberg, the US Department of Transportation’s deputy secretary, said in the statement:

“It is tragic that drunk driving crashes are one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities in this country, and far too many lives are lost.”

The statement added that in 2021, 3,384 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, which cost $280 billion in lost wages.

NHSTA said that alcohol-impaired deaths hit a nearly 15-year high, with more than 1,000 people killed due to drunk driving crashes in 2021.

“We are trying to see whether we can get it done, does the technology exist in a way that is going to work every time,” Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson said.

Carlson said there were close to 1 billion separate daily driving journeys in the United States.

“If it’s 99.9% accurate, you could have a million false positives,” Carlson said.

“Those false positives could be somebody trying to get to the hospital for an emergency.”

Reuters reported: Separately, Carlson will tell a US House of Representatives committee on Wednesday that US traffic deaths fell 4.5% in the first nine months of the year after sharply rising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are optimistic that we’re finally seeing a reversal of the record-high fatalities seen during the pandemic, this is not a cause for celebration,” Carlson’s written testimony says.

According to Wired, research into anti-drunk-driving technology has gone on for decades, and four main technologies stand out.

“Sensors embedded in steering wheels or dashboards can detect levels of alcohol and carbon dioxide in a driver’s breath.

Touch-based sensors in a steering wheel or other surfaces can use infrared lights to determine the blood alcohol content in capillaries just below the skin’s surface.

And driver-monitoring systems, which are already common in new cars with advanced driving-assistance technologies, could use eye or head tracking to determine whether a person is likely impaired. Similarly, many vehicles can already detect lane departures and erratic steering, potentially providing extra signals of possible inebriation.

Federal regulators said that while they believed the direction from Congress in the Infrastructure Bill intended for the NHTSA to require anti-drugged-driving technology too, the current process will focus only on alcohol.”

WATCH: Moment Car Owner Learns Cost of New Hybrid Battery Is More than He Paid for Car

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