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Cars That Detect Elevated Alcohol In Drivers’ Bloodstream

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Early in July 2010, CBS news posted a very interesting story about new technology in the mix for cars.  This new technology is a device that would allow cars to shut down when alcohol is detected in a driver’s bloodstream.

There is big debate over it.  Those who support the device say it would be optional and save lives.  However, those who are completely against the idea say the government will just use it to keep people from driving home even after drinking one beer.

The main push comes from New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.  He is to provide $60 million over the next five years to develop this car technology that would be able to evaluate a person’s blood alcohol concentration.  CBS says, “it could be anything from a system that can read a finger when it touches a steering wheel to a mechanism that detects the presence of alcohol from a driver’s normal breathing.”

On July 8th, Sen. Schumer presented this idea near Buffalo while sitting next to a woman who had a daughter killed in a drunk driving accident.  Apparently, the daughter would never have died if she was prevented from getting behind the wheel.  In this presentation, Sen. Schumer suggested that parents could possibly install this in their teenagers’ cars.  The technology would be able to detect if their teenagers were drinking and then prevent them from driving and saving lives in the process.

The debate also goes more into whether it would be required by the federal government.  Proponents, like Sen. Schumer say that the technology would not be required by the federal government.  However, critics say that states possibly could mandate it.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program has pushed for the technology to be present in every car in America.  Those who are opposed, such as restaurant trade associations, want people to come to their businesses and have the ability to drink and then drive home (obviously not after having too much to drink).  The technology, however, would allow for some sort of margin of error that would fall below the legal limit of .08 percent of blood alcohol level.  Therefore, people may be found too impaired to drive even though they are below the legal limit and are allowed to drive.  DADSS estimated that the installation of these devices in cars could save at least 9,000 lives a year.

According to a spokesman for Sen. Schumer, “the legislation does not require vehicles have the technology installed, but gives law enforcement and parents an option to combat drunk driving and its tragic consequences.”

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