The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requires automakers to equip all new vehicles with technology that can detect drunk drivers and prevent them from driving. The move follows the investigation into a 2021 crash in California that left nine people dead.
“Technology could have prevented this harrowing accident, just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of deaths from impaired driving and speeding-related crashes that we see in the United States each year,” the president said. of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy. “We need to implement the technologies we have here, now to save lives.”
While the board cannot impose such a rule itself, its recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) carry considerable weight. NHTSA is responsible for creating and enforcing vehicle safety and equipment regulations.
Technologies could include passive sensors that detect alcohol on the breath of drivers as they enter the vehicle and monitoring systems that look for common traits of impaired drivers, such as lazy or reactive movements of the steering wheel. If the devices were triggered, they would prevent or limit the operation of the vehicle. Many cars already use technologies that detect the characteristics of tired drivers, and these technologies could theoretically be adapted to the additional role.
The recommendations were applauded by AAA and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“This is an exciting announcement from the NTSB and a true show of leadership from NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy in bringing the country closer to zero road deaths.” , said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety and advocacy at AAA. “AAA supports the use of technology to make the ‘car the cure’ for impaired driving.”
According to the NHTSA, more than 230,000 people have died in crashes involving drunk drivers. In 2020, around 30% of all road deaths involved drivers under the influence of alcohol.
The decision to require the devices could still take at least three years to implement. The NTSB also requires automakers to develop and install technology that prevents speed-related crashes.