New technology could prevent drunk driving

A test vehicle equipped with new drunk-driving prevention technology was unveiled yesterday to members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Congress and auto industry representatives.

The exhibition featured two technology prototypes being developed by U.S. Department of Transportation officials and a consortium of auto industry experts as part of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program, which began in 2008.

One of the new systems detects alcohol levels by touch, the others by sensing the driver’s breath. The display was intended to show the progress in developing the projects for wide release to the public.

“Support from Congress and industry has helped us achieve key research and development milestones,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “DADSS has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations ... and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk-driving deaths.”

Nearly ten thousand people are killed in alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. each year. The DADSS project is intended to cut that figure significantly -- a move lauded by anti-drunk-driving advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“This technology represents the future, when one day drunk driving will be relegated to the history books,” MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church said.

The DADSS project is slated for completion in 2020.

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