Included in the recently passed highway bill was a $21 million dollar provision to hasten the development of new alcohol detection technology that federal officials want to make standard equipment on all new cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently unveiled a prototype car outfitted with the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The DADSS system, which uses technology that the Washington Times refers to as “sketchy” detect a driver’s blood alcohol content. The technology could include anything from infrared lights to retinal scanners to skin sensors that initiate upon ignition.
Opponents of the DADSS say that it is unlikely that the technology would be sensitive enough to be able to discern between a legal BAC of 0.08 and an illegal BAC of 0.10. Manufacturers will likely have to utilize a safety margin, which could lead to drivers with a BACs as low as 0.05 being stranded by the technology. Further, because it takes time for alcohol to absorb into the bloodstream, a person could drink several shots just before they begin driving and still register a legal BAC.
Researchers believe that they can make the technology good enough to be accurate 99.9997 of the time, but that means still means that 1000’s of motorists will be stranded in parking lots and driveways every single day.
In addition to the $21 million set aside for the DADSS technology, the federal government has already spent around $100 million on its development.