NHTSA pushes for alcohol detection locks in all cars

Federal agencies and the state of Virginia have committed another $5.1 million to develop and deploy the controversial technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has committed additional funding to help push controversial technology "to end drunk driving."

Known as Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), the technology first received an acronym five years ago as federal regulators began to promote alcohol detection systems as a technology that should be used all cars. Such technology has already been in use for many more years, but only as an enforcement tool -- and expensive deterrent -- for people already convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol.

"Drunk driving crashes are no accident - they are 100 percent preventable. They all connect back to human choices and errors, but we're not stopping there," said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. "With the help of our safety partners we're looking at a technological path forward to create a world where there is no more drunk driving."

The NHTSA and the state of Virginia have provided an additional $5.1 million to help further develop and deploy DADSS. The commitment appears to be in addition to a $21 million provision included last year in a transportation spending bill.

DADSS differs from existing ignition interlock systems by attempting to 'unobtrusively' measure a driver's BAC and preventing the vehicle from starting if the driver's BAC is over .08. One method involves a finger scanner build into the ignition button. Another passively detects alcohol in exhaled air, claiming to isolate the driver's measurement from a drunk passenger.

The NHTSA last year presented DADSS as something that could be "an option available to vehicle owners," however Rosekind's vision of a world without drunk driving would only be achievable if the technology is mandatory on all vehicles and cannot be easily duped by clever drunks.

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