Home Economy Company working on technology to prevent drunk driving

Company working on technology to prevent drunk driving


(NewsNation) —  Drunk driving continues to take thousands of lives every year. To combat it, some in the auto industry are working on making safety improvements to vehicles that would prevent those who’ve had too much alcohol from getting on the road.

Bud Zaouk is the program and technical manager of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program, which is working on creating this kind of technology.

With their next generation of sensors, Zaouk said, the device will be able to detect if someone has alcohol on their breath and in their lungs. If the person does not, they will be able to start their car.

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“We are working towards a fully passive system,” Zaouk explained. “What that means is the driver has to do nothing when they get it. They don’t have to change their driving habits. They’re going into the vehicle and they’re breathing normally, and the sensor itself will detect it. It will pick it up and be able to screen whether you have alcohol or not.”

Zaouk showed a NewsNation reporter what would happen if someone did have alcohol in their system using hand sanitizer.

“The sensor itself is located under the instrument cluster in front of the driver, and what you’ll see is it gave me a red signal, and it’s showing me a lot of alcohol present in my breath,” Zaouk said. “That’s what you typically see if somebody is highly intoxicated. This is designed to be able to measure at the legal limit in the U.S.”

If someone is above the legal blood alcohol concentration for driving, 0.08%, they won’t be able to start the car.

Preventing drunk driving

U.S. federal data shows impaired driving increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 13,000 people dying from alcohol-related traffic incidents in 2022 alone.

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Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must issue a final rule that establishes a federal motor vehicle safety standard requiring new passenger vehicles to have “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.” Per this law, the rule has to meet the requirements set by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The Act states that proposed standards have to be reasonable, practicable, and reduce traffic crashes.

In December 2023, the NHTSA announced its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This notice, NHTSA said, would help them gather information about the drunk driving prevention technology’s progress, and how to deploy it safety.

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