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Mandatory sensors in all vehicles could curb drunk driving

Proponents are supporting a federal transportation bill that would ask for an additional $24 million in funding over two years to support the research of alcohol-sensing technology in vehicles. This is just one of the many bills that Congress is reviewing. For those that support the legislation, it could mean fewer car accidents on the road caused by drunk drivers.

The proposed funding would research whether it would be feasible to require automakers to include the alcohol-sensing technology as standard equipment in future cars. This would be a departure for some states that require convicted drunk drivers to have interlocks installed in their vehicles; this would test everyone.

Currently there are two technologies that are promising. The first technology would use a touchpad and lasers to detect alcohol in human tissue and the second technology would be sensors that would be installed throughout the car. The sensors would be able to detect a driver's breath automatically every time they got into the car and be advanced enough to detect only a driver's breath and not a passenger.

Those opposed to this legislation include the American Beverage Institute, which feels that if someone has a glass of wine at dinner, they may have to call to get a ride home. In addition, skeptics of the system feel that the device could fail even if a person wasn't intoxicated and that person would be stuck somewhere with no way home. It could cause a lot of frustration for drivers.

Supporters of the legislation feel that funding this research gives automakers the opportunity to find a technology that could detect alcohol without being obtrusive to the driver. It would make all drivers aware of drinking and driving and that if they plan to indulge, that they would need to designate a driver or find another way home.

While nothing has yet been approved, it will be interesting to see how the research turns out and whether the public would be behind this type of mandatory technology.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Should future cars curb drunk drivers?" Dan Turner, March 28, 2012

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