Behold drivers, NHTSA unveils killer tech to prevent drunk driving (+video)

The federal government along with the automotive and technology industries have come up with a groundbreaking idea to prevent drinking and driving. For the first time, there’s going to be an alcohol detection system right inside the vehicle being driven.

Washington D.C. witnessed an advanced alcohol detecting system with revolutionary technology unveiled by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on June 5, 2015.

This system named ‘Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety’ has two mechanisms:
One is the touch based mechanism, and the other is the breath based mechanism. Both detect and measure the alcohol concentration in the skin and breadth respectively above 0.08 percent which is the legal limit in the fifty states of USA.

By taking multiple readings in just one second, the touch based system immensely increases the accuracy of the system. It can be placed on the steering wheel or on the start button. It measures the alcohol concentration under the surface of the skin by shining an infrared light through the fingertip.

The breath based system detects the carbon dioxide and alcohol molecules. If it finds the proportion of the alcohol molecules to be higher than the carbon dioxide ones, it will not allow the car to start. The system can be placed in the form of a sensor above the steering wheel and detects only the driver’s breath and alcohol levels. This is measured by using infrared beams.

The developers of the touch based system are Takata, a large scale automotive supplying company, and TruTouch, which is specialized in using near-infrared spectroscopy for alcohol sensing. While the developer of the breath based system is Autoliv, a Sweden based company.

Drunk Driving

For now, the systems haven’t been made mandatory for users which forms one major disadvantage since it will allow the careful and responsible drivers to avoid driving after alcohol consumption, but the treacherous ones will have their way by not installing the system in their cars.

Moreover the system will cost around $400 when it will be available almost five years from now. This will discourage the public from buying the expensive optional equipment and take the trouble of installing them in their vehicles.

Among other drawbacks, the technology and mechanism is also being disparaged. Critics argue that the touch based detection system could falsely detect traces of alcohol if the driver wiped his hands with sanitizers made of ethyl alcohol.

The minimum limit of alcohol concentration is under scrutiny as it takes a good amount of alcohol consumption to bring the level to 0.08 percent in the blood. Thus, the system should carefully set limits to ensure its accurate performance. For instance, the tolerance limit can come down to zero percent for youngsters below the age of 21.

Although the DADSS is still under progress, the support from Congress and automotive companies is immense which will certainly set a positive path towards its development.