The DADSS programs hopes to put an end to drunk driving, with a technology that prevents a drunk driver from driving when intoxicated. The project involves the development of a car that tests blood alcohol content (BAC) and prevents ignition-start up when a driver’s BAC is at or above 0.08. Will you be stranded every weekend? (via dadss.org)

We all know we are not supposed to drive drunk, but people still do. According to the CDC, in 2013 roughly 31% of all traffic-related deaths involved someone driving under the influence of alcohol. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) hopes to change that, however, by creating a technology that will not allow you to turn on your car if you’re drunk.


DADSS hopes to counter some 10,000 annual deaths related to drunk driving each year with its new anti-drunk technology. The research group is developing two technologies that can determine when a driver has had too much to drink, and overrides the driver’s ability to turn on the car when he or she is intoxicated. The technologies will not be ready for market for another five to eight years, but the DADSS researchers’ work is inspiring other companies to develop similar technologies to fight drunk driving.


The first DADSS system is a breath-based system that analyzes the breath of the driver and passengers in a car. The idea is that the car can serve as breathalyzer that can distinguish between driver and passenger. If the driver’s breath shows signs of over indulgence, the system will not allow the car to turn on.


The second DADSS system is a blood-based sensor that monitors the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver in less than a second. The sensor will be installed either on the vehicle’s start button or the steering wheel that can test the BAC of the driver using infrared technology. If the driver’s BAC is at or above 0.08 (the legal limit for all states), the car will not start.


While the DADSS is a huge research project that has gained support from almost every major car manufacturer and alcohol vendor, some consumers are outraged. Since BAC increases as time passes and alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, American Beverage Institute Managing Director Sarah Longwell believes the technology may inappropriately categorize responsible drivers, rendering them incapable of driving themselves home after a glass of wine. If a police officer-administered BAC test would find these drivers to have a reading at or above 0.08, however, these “responsible” drivers should take a cab home.


Whether or not consumers are thrilled about the new technology, it’s catching on. Some manufacturers may offer this feature as a safety add-on, such as side-mirror turning signals, that may give parents who share their cars with their young-adult children peace of mind. According to the CDC, ignition interlocks, often used for previous drunk driver offenders, result in a 70% reduction of arrests. If a driver knows his car won’t turn on if he’s had too much to drink, logic tells him not to drink as much, or to take a cab.


DADSS researchers plan to continue developing their technology and hope to install it into live cars in the near future, to determine how it would function in a natural environment. The project is largely funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS).



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