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Drunk Driving Could be a Thing of the Past Thanks to New Tech

Drunk driving isn’t just a surefire way to get yourself into an accident and skyrocket your auto insurance rates – it takes over 10,000 lives every year, and many drunk driving-related fatalities are innocent, sober people who were struck by a drunk driver. Even with a world of safety features, researchers are constantly striving to make roads a safer place, and with the help of a technology currently in development, drunk driving fatalities – and drunk driving itself – could become a thing of the past.

This new technology is being developed by the government-funded research organization Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), and the researchers spearheading this endeavor are currently researching and testing two different methods of measuring a person’s blood-alcohol content instantly and automatically.

The two different approaches being considered will both utilize infrared light because the microscopic particles present in an inebriated person’s blood give off a distinct wavelength when exposed to this invisible spectrum of light.

The first of the two approaches will measure the driver’s BAC by examining their breath in a fashion similar to a breathalyzer. The key difference lies in how convenient this new method is. Instead of a driver breathing into a tube to make their vehicle start, this new safety option will gather the driver’s breath automatically and screen it for illegal levels of alcohol. If the system detects enough alcohol to impair your ability to drive, your vehicle won’t start – it’s that simple.

The second approach would rely on touch. A designated surface in the vehicle, such as the start button or a section of the dashboard, would use infrared lights to peer through the top layers of your skin into your blood stream, screening your blood for alcohol and similarly rendering your vehicle stationary until you’ve sobered up.

While it’s certainly interesting to see how these different methods work, the fact of the matter is this: either one of these technologies would be a complete game-changer, and would (in theory) drastically reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents the world over.

But will this technology ever hit the mainstream market? With the support of advocate organizations from around the world, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), it seems likely, but the creators of this technology aren’t certain that this prevention measure will come standard in vehicles in the immediate future. More likely is the notion that these systems will be made available as optional safety features when this technology is made available to the public, but the American court system could benefit from this technology as well by replacing their current ignition interlock systems with this new technology. A likely deciding factor is the cost of these systems, and that is yet to be determined.

So where in development are these systems? Bud Zaouk, director of DADSS, says, “We are in the process of taking all of those larger prototypes and making them smaller, making them work in a vehicle environment. It has to be reliable day in and day out for the life of the vehicle.” We couldn’t agree more.

Would you put a system like this into your car? Should these systems be mandatory or subsidized? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to call or click today to learn more about our California auto insurance policies – we will work with you to find a policy that fits your needs, budget, and lifestyle.

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