The National Transportation Safety Board advises that all new cars sold in the US come with blood alcohol detection devices to prevent drunk drivers from operating them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s adoption of the suggestion could lower the frequency of alcohol-related accidents, one of the country’s leading causes of traffic fatalities.
A report about a terrible crash in which a drunk driver hit head-on with another car near Fresno, California, last year and killed both adult drivers and seven children featured a fresh push to make roadways safer. The report was released on Tuesday.
Roadway fatalities in the United States are nearing crisis levels, according to NHTSA this week. The number of fatalities last year was nearly 43,000, the highest in 16 years, as more Americans hit the roads after being told to stay home during a pandemic.
According to preliminary figures, deaths increased over the first half of this year but decreased from April through June, which authorities hope to be a pattern.
The NTSB asserted that the proposal is intended to pressure NHTSA to act, even though it lacks regulatory jurisdiction and can only ask other agencies to take action. It might go into action as soon as three years.
“NHTSA must take action. NTSB Chairman Jennifer Homendy remarked, “We see the numbers. We must ensure that we are taking all possible measures to save lives.
She claimed that since 2012, the NTSB had urged the NHTSA to investigate alcohol monitoring devices. According to her, more lives will be saved when technology is adopted more quickly.
According to the recommendation, a driver’s conduct should be monitored by technologies to ensure that they are awake. According to her, many modern vehicles have cameras aimed at the driver, which may reduce drunk driving.
Congress mandated NHTSA to force automakers to install alcohol monitoring devices within three years as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year. The agency may ask for more time. It has taken a while to implement these standards in the past.
The law merely says that the technology must “passively monitor” a driver to see if they are intoxicated; it does not mention the device itself.
NHTSA records show that 11,654 persons died in alcohol-related collisions in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available. According to the NTSB, that represents nearly 30% of all traffic fatalities in the US and a 14% rise over the numbers from 2019, the previous full year before the coronavirus outbreak.
The report’s fatal collision involved a 28-year-old SUV driver returning from a 2021 New Year’s Day party after drinking. Near Avenal, California, the SUV veered off State Route 33’s right side, crossed the center line, and collided directly with a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
After visiting Pismo Beach, the pickup returned home with seven kids, aged 6 to 15, and 34-year-old Gabriela Pulido. According to the NTSB, bystanders were unable to save the occupants as the truck swiftly took fire.
The SUV driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.21%, nearly three times California’s legal limit. Despite having marijuana in his system, the agency also determined that the alcohol was more than enough to impair his driving seriously. According to the report, the SUV was moving at 88 to 98 miles per hour (142 to 158 kilometers per hour).
According to the NTSB, the collision didn’t give Pulido enough time to avoid because it happened less than a second after the Journey re-entered the road.
Juan Pulido, 37, whose wife and four children died in the collision, expressed gratitude to the NTSB for promoting alcohol monitoring since it may prevent another individual from suffering the same tragedy. He remarked, “It’s something their families have to deal with.” It won’t go away the next day.
According to Pulido’s lawyer, Paul Kiesel, driver monitoring systems could also prevent accidents brought on by illnesses or fatigue, sparing people’s suffering and hundreds of millions of dollars in medical expenses.
Since 2008, the EPA and 16 automakers have funded alcohol monitoring research collectively under the name Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.
According to Jake McCook, a spokesman for the organization, the group has engaged a Swedish business to conduct research on technology that will automatically check a driver’s breath for alcohol and halt a car from moving if the driver is intoxicated. According to McCook, the driver wouldn’t need to blow into a tube, and a sensor would check their breath.
According to him, another business is developing light technology that might be used to check someone’s finger for alcohol consumption.
According to McCook, it may take one or two more model years after automakers acquire the technology before it appears in new cars.
Most of the 280 million automobiles on American roads won’t have the technology for years after it is ready.
Launch by 2024
By 2024, breath technology might be ready, and touch technology would follow roughly a year later.