At the 2013 Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminar, Nat Beuse of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explained that the organization is pursuing the development of alcohol detection technology as a means of reducing fatalities from drunken driving auto accidents.
As the NHTSA’s associate administrator for vehicle safety research, Beuse addressed the crowd at last years conference to announce the organization is working with industry safety product suppliers to develop an automated system to detect when a driver may be too drunk to drive.
At the time, Beyse did not have details on how this technology would work, or whether the outcome of the detection would simply be an alert to the driver or a full disabling of the vehicle.
This years CAR Management Briefing Seminar is wrapping up, and news has yet to surface as to what stage the proposed technology is in. Last year, Beuse noted that the addition of alcohol detection technology would severely reduce the number of drunk driving-related accidents in the U.S., according to data from the NHTSA.
Although Beuse did not let on as to which product safety suppliers the NHTSA is working with to develop the program, the organization stated in 2011 that it granted Takata Corp. a $2.2 million contract to develop software that would detect a drivers sobriety. In light of Takata’s recent air bag recalls, it will be interesting to see whether the contract still stands once more is said publicly on the matter.
To further express the need for the NHTSAs proposed software, Beuse pointed to the emergency braking systems that have been implemented on a mass scale to prevent or reduce collisions. Mercedes-Benz is one manufacturer that has equipped its newer vehicles with the technology, and the NHTSA believes more manufacturers should adopt the emergency braking systems.
Beuse was adamant that developments like the emergency braking systems and now the alcohol detection systems are highly instrumental in reducing traffic deaths. Vehicle fatalities in total have been declining in the United States over the last several decades, but still kill over 33,000 people a year and incur a cost estimated at $827 billion annually, Beuse said. Increased levels of vehicle autonomy promise to lower both numbers in coming years as driver error is the largest contributing factor to most crashes.
It remains to be seen whether policymakers and the auto industry will come together to determine the best use of the NHTSAs latest technological proposal, but no doubt any steps that can reduce the number of lives lost to reckless drinking and driving incidents is beneficial for all.
Struggling with the aftermath of a drinking and driving accident can be extremely painful for the surviving family members. Anderson Cummings provides free case evaluations to any person who wishes to seek justice for such a loss.