I came across this interesting but slightly disturbing article. I say slightly distrubing because, if it comes to production, this new technology would impose itself upon everyone who has to try and drive the vehicle. Additionally, the technology in its current form is not without flaws according to this article. It appears that some car companies are now experimenting with equipping all vehicles with a device that would require the driver to blow into it to test their BAC before allowing them to start the engine. This research is being funded by taxpayer dollars. In theory, it is supposed to work similarly to the ignition interlock system that is currently installed on the cars of those individuals convicted of DUI. The legal BAC limit in most states is .08%, however according to some sources, this device would not allow someone to drive their car if they register a BAC of .02%. Supposedly, the apparent reasoning is that a person’s BAC level rises over time. Thus, if set at .02%, then again in theory, a rising BAC level would still stop t a person from driving who might reach a BAC of .08% or higher over time. The problem with this “one solution for all” is that the technology does not always work as intended. And, we use our cars for all types of situations, including emergencies. There is no reasonable basis to punish us all for the sins of a few. Moreover, people always seem to find a way to “get around” these devices.
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Alcohol-sensing technology could become standard in all cars
By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
The long-term transportation funding bill just approved by Congress includes funds for researching alcohol-detection technology that could eventually be standard equipment in all new cars.
That funding — $5 million over two years — should have been stripped from the bill because it “uses American taxpayer dollars to fund something they’re not going to want in their cars,” said a group representing the restaurant industry.
“Spending lots of taxpayer dollars to develop alcohol-sensing technology that can come as standard equipment in all cars is a misuse of these funds,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute (ABI).
Since 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the nation’s automakers have been researching technology that can non-invasively measure a driver’s blood-alcohol content and prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver is legally drunk. The national research effort is the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
Longwell argues that such in-vehicle technology will mean the end of social drinking in the USA. “Our main complaint is that (the in-car systems) will not be set at .08%,” she said. That is the blood alcohol level deemed unlawful for drivers in all 50 states. “It will have to be set lower, because after five drinks, your BAC level is not .08 right away. It will increase, and cross the legal threshold while you’re driving. The vehicle can’t just shut down mid-trip. So, for legal and liability reasons, it will have to be set below .08. We believe they will set it around .02 or .03.”
DADSS spokesman Wade Newton denied that. “.08 is the legal limit,” he said. “That’s what the devices will be set at.”
Newton said researchers are “looking at whether technology exists” that could potentially shut a vehicle down or take some other action if a driver’s BAC rose above the legal limit while the vehicle was in motion. “We’re still looking at how to check for a situation where the driver starts exceeding the legal limit once the vehicle is in motion, and also what to do with the vehicle,” he said.
The DADSS researchers are testing approaches that:
•Use “tissue spectrometry” to measure a driver’s BAC. Sensors in places such as the steering wheel, gear shift and ignition read blood-alcohol levels through the driver’s fingertips.
•Use “distant spectrometry,” a breath-based method in which multiple sensors in the vehicle’s cabin assess the alcohol concentration in the driver’s exhaled breath.
Researchers expect to have a “drivable test vehicle” within about two years. “We think 8-10 years is the earliest a consumer would see this as an option in an auto,” Newton said.
Longwell of the ABI said the new technology will signal an end to Americans’ ability “to have a beer at a ballgame or a glass of wine with dinner.” Her organization also challenges the accuracy of in-vehicle alcohol detection devices, arguing that even if they were “reliable 99.99966% of the time, it would still mean over 4,000 misreadings per day.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an advocate of in-vehicle alcohol detectors, said the research funds are well spent. “Drunken driving costs the U.S. $132 billion each year, and we think that $5 million … is a good use of transportation dollars to potentially eliminate the problem,” said J.T. Griffin, senior vice president for public policy.
- Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-29/alcohol-detection-technology-standard-cars/55927610/1