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NHTSA awards $2.25M contract to develop in-car blood alcohol test

Drunk driving deaths have fallen by 31 percent since 1991, a trend the NHTSA looks to continue with the new contract.

Despite recent advances in automotive safety technologies, an average of 70 Americans per day are killed in drunk driving-related accidents. The NHTSA is looking to put a dent in that figure by awarding a contract worth $2.25 million to TK Holdings Inc. to develop a new in-car blood alcohol testing device.

TK, which is the Detroit-based subsidiary of Japanese auto supply company Takata, will employ infrared technology created by TruTouch Technologies, Inc. The device will use infrared light to measure alcohol in the bloodstream at the touch of a button and, if the driver has been excessively bibulous, can shut down the vehicle's engine.

"The objective is to develop tools to help intoxicated drivers from operating the vehicle if they are impaired and to do so in a personal, nonintrusive manner," said Kirk Morris, vice president of business development for TK.

NHTSA funding for the contract comes from the organizations Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety.

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