National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, rolled out a prototype which is able to detect if the driver is drunk and if it is proven positive then the device will not allow the vehicle to even start. To develop this device, NHTSA is working with DADSS, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety and planned to present it in the Congress and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
To handle the issue, DADSS has come up with two solutions, one is touch-based and the other is breath-based and both are easy to use. The touch-based device will be installed around the steering wheel and it uses infrared scanner to analyse the topmost of the driver’s skin layer. If it detects that there is more than 0.8 percent blood alcohol, which is the legal amount, present then it will not allow the vehicle operation.
The other solution, the breath-based device, will analyse the driver’s BAC without requiring the driver to do a deep inhale and exhale through a tube. The driver just need to breath in and breath out naturally and the device, using a beam of infrared light will be able to detect the alcohol level of the driver. Similarly, if the percentage of alcohol is higher than the legal then the device will not allow the car to start.
The breath-based device is developed by Swedish supplier Autoliv while touch-based device is developed by Takata. Unfortunately, Takata is currently undergoing investigation due to the millions of ongoing vehicle being recalled because of exploding airbags incident.
There are also some drawbacks from this technology, namely, a false reading maybe detected especially with the breath-based device. Despite all these, the two solutions will be helpful in minimizing road accident due to drunk driving, if they are able to be released for public in the future.