National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at Congress on Thursday showcased mock ups of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), a program that seeks to invent "a world without drunk driving."
The DADSS can use touch or breathalyzer tech to determine an individual's level of intoxication and prevent an automobile from moving, should that person be over the limit or, in the case of teens, banned from drinking altogether.
The NHTSA is pushing to have the final version of DADSS offered as a safety option and isn't looking to have the alcohol detection system made mandatory.
On Thursday, the NHTSA touted the DADSS' efficacy and showed how researchers will use prototypes of the product in the next phase of development. With one of the DADSS prototypes based on touch and the other on a breathalyzer design, it's clear the program still has a long way to go and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said as much.
"There is still a great deal of work to do, but support from Congress and industry has helped us achieve key research and development milestones," Rosekind said. "DADSS has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths."
The DADSS program began through collaboration between the NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACT). Since then, other organizations seeking to squash drunk driving, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), have gotten behind the project.
It's programs like DADSS that encourage the NHTSA to be bullish on technology, stated US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
"Education, awareness and enforcement have succeeded in dramatically reducing drunk driving fatalities, but the advanced technology of DADSS brings enormous potential to save even more lives," said Foxx.
About 10,000 people are killed each year as a result of alcohol-impaired driving, according to the NHTSA. Citing Insurance Institute for Highway Safety insights, the NHTSA said that a device capable of sidelining drivers who have blood alcohol concentrations of more than 0.08 could save about 7,000 lives each year.
Check off an animation detailing the DADSS: