It seems that the new stricter strict laws regarding drunk driving have done little to curb that gravely irresponsible habit, so harsher measures may be on the way in the form of in-car breathalyzers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may be requiring such devices, though not any time soon.
A new device, called Drive Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), is being designed to make it easier for court-ordered users to start up their cars. The new system works in one of two ways to detect alcohol levels on the driver. A touch-based system uses tissue spectrometry that can detect blood alcohol levels when placing a finger to a touchpad, not unlike a fingerprint scanner. The other method is like a breath-analyzer, however it’s not very similar the current systems requiring one to blow into a tube. Instead, the system works using distant spectrometry; likely to detect specific molecules associated with alcohol on the breath. The sensor detecting those particles works using infrared. Basically, the system will be able to detect what makes up the drivers breath without any need to blow towards it. Completely under the radar.
Its hassle-free operation could make it easy for NHTSA to require the system for all cars in the future. The DADSS system is still roughly ten years away, though, so it won’t be in next year’s vehicles. NHTSA’s head Ray LaHood said, “[DADSS] may be another means – like lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control – to help avert crashes, injuries, and fatalities before they occur.” LaHood did comment that they weren’t going to force automakers to install the system and that, “DADSS is not designed to prohibit people from enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at the game.”
As long as it is made with safety in mind and to prevent those with a higher than .08 ABV from driving, the system should be welcomed by consumers with open arms. In the long run, it could save thousands of lives.