Print 45 comment(s) - last by elgueroloco.. on Jul 1 at 6:41 PM

  (Source: DWI Blog)
Additional funding through the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 could make it a reality

A drunken driving program started by the government and the auto industry is in the midst of receiving extra funding which could lead to the development of an "anti-drunk driving" device. The device "sniff's" the driver's breath, uses light beams to detect alcohol content in human tissue, and will stop the vehicle from starting if any alcohol is present.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program started in 2008 as a five-year program that began with $10 million in total funding. Currently, it operates on $2 million a year and is a cooperative effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which gives $1 million, while 13 automakers, 11 of which are Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers members, split the other $1 million. 

This $2 million a year could increase to $12 million if the Senate decides to add the program to the new Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010. The idea to provide extra funding to the program was presented in an amendment by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), who also proposed a similar standalone bill back in February.

The amendment proposes five years of $12 million annual funding, which will amount to $60 million total. The money will go directly to the program in order to support its goal of creating an in-car device that would stop those over the legal blood-alcohol limit from driving a car in an impaired state. Currently, the NHTSA and the automakers do not plan on making these devices mandatory, they're hoping that consumers will jump onboard with the idea of an alcohol interlock system in order to avoid any potential safety risks. 

According to Susan Ferguson, the program director for Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, the annual $2 million has been adequate up until this point, but due to the rising costs of technology, the additional money is becoming more and more vital to make these devices a reality. 

"We want a device that has to be invisible to the sober driver, the person under the legal limit," said Ferguson. "It has to be very fast, very accurate, highly reliable and precise. All those things will take a significant amount of money."

One problem this program could face is if consumers decide not to use the device, since it isn't mandatory. Despite the safety advantages and the importance of sober operation of a vehicle, many users may find the device inconvenient when the car doesn't start in certain situations. 

"The purpose of the NHTSA is not to manufacture and develop air bags or seat belts or drunk-driving devices," said Joan Claybrook, a member of the board of directors at Public Citizen and former head of the safety agency. "NHTSA's role is of a regulator."

But consumers and many different groups, such as Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Safety Council, are supportive of the idea. According to a survey that the Insurance Institute conducted last year, which consisted of 1,004 people (two-thirds of which consume alcohol), 64 percent indicated it would be "good" or "very good" to have alcohol detection devices in all vehicles. 

"I think it is equivalent to the next seat belt," said Ferguson, who used to be a top researcher at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "It could make a huge difference in highway safety."

Another problem that is worrying safety advocates is that the $60 million could cut the amount of money set aside to make the NHTSA "more effective." Approximately $140 million a year is given to the federal safety agency for vehicle safety, and the plan – before the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety was added to the bill -- was to increase this amount to $200 million in fiscal year 2011, $240 million in 2012, and $280 million in 2013. 

This decision is to be made by the Senate's appropriations committee, but Amber McDowell, a spokeswoman for Udall, said that Udall wanted this program to be funded separately, hence, it would not affect the money planned for the safety agency. 

As far as rights of the device goes, the NHTSA and the automakers both have rights to the technology under the current five-year, $10 million program. The figures show that devices, such as the one this program could develop, could save approximately 8,000-9,000 lives a year. According to federal records, 12,000 people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2008, so these devices could prevent over 60 percent of these fatalities.

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By Digimonkey on 6/30/2010 9:49:54 AM , Rating: 2
I'd actually prefer these to be mandatory. As long as they don't raise the cost of the car by much, and given that you get a insurance discount for having such a device so it'd make up for the cost.

I mean really, if you have a drinking problem and know you drive drunk or at least above the limit, why would you buy this as an option? About the only good it'd do someone that is responsible already is to make sure if someone borrowed your car they didn't operate it while intoxicated.

RE: Okay
By hughlle on 6/30/2010 10:16:09 AM , Rating: 3
so let's say you are out and about in the middle of nowhere and you severly cut yourself on rusty metal at the same time as you've had a pint of beer. are you supposed to sit in your car waiting for an ambulance while you loose blood and risk infection? in the UK you have the right to defense if the need was justified (maybe you'd had a pint and suddenly your wife went into labour, you are supposed to just prop yher on a sofa a wait for someone to arrive?

this is daft and won't be implemented

RE: Okay
By Digimonkey on 6/30/2010 10:50:16 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of those are unlikely scenarios and one could argue something bad like that may happen, but the balance is that it saves thousands of lives.

I can see your point however. My main concern was that if these are going to be optional there is really no reason for this project to exist at all, it's just a big waste of money as people with the real problems wouldn't opt in for these devices.

RE: Okay
By elgueroloco on 7/1/2010 6:36:02 PM , Rating: 3
but the balance is that it saves thousands of lives.

No it doesn't. This won't save any lives. Almost all drunk-driving-related fatalities are by a tiny few repeat offenders, but these things will punish everyone for the crimes of just a few.

Also, they already have these in some states as punishment for DUI, and people get around them by filling up a balloon with their breath before getting drunk, and then using the breath from the balloon to start their car.

It's totally stupid, a total waste, and a retarded inconvenience for everyone that actually has the potential to end more lives than it will save (which will be 0)

Just more idiotic nanny-state nonsense that gives politicians a way to waste our money and make it look like they are doing something good.

RE: Okay
By tmouse on 6/30/2010 1:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
So I get this straight, your in the middle of nowhere, you cut yourself severely and you stop to get a pint? Or do you happen to have one in your car all of the time? Oh wait I get it your walking around in the middle of NOWHERE with a pint and you get cut. Could you possible come up with stranger coincidences?

If your BAL is over .08 you should be REALLY thinking seriously about NOT driving your pregnant wife to the hospital. She (and the baby)will be safer on the sofa

RE: Okay
By PrezWeezy on 6/30/2010 1:53:29 PM , Rating: 3
I plan on going camping (in the middle of nowhere) this summer and I plan on bringing beer and tequila with me.

RE: Okay
By Digimonkey on 6/30/2010 2:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like fun and if you have tequila you really don't have to worry about infection.

RE: Okay
By tmouse on 6/30/2010 3:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
Point is this is a reasonably rare set of circumstances, hardly a real reason to not have this technology developed. Hopefully you will not experience a serious injury, it's hard enough to get to a medical facility when you're in the middle of nowhere add in alcohol and it probably doesn't matter whether or not your car can start. On a side note while it may be "fun" if you're really going to be in the middle of nowhere (not just a small park or out in the country) it's really not a good idea to get blitzed, you become a danger to yourself and the forest (think fire).

RE: Okay
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2010 2:31:15 PM , Rating: 1
I hope you're right. The amount of "big brother" mentality going on right now is just offensive. It's like everyone's caught Obama Fever and thinks we can just mandate our way to utopia.

RE: Okay
By Ammohunt on 6/30/2010 2:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
You worry too much! the role of Governemnt is to take care of all your needs and prtect you from your own stupidity! I have a room in my house ready for my Government Minder to move in! I sure as heck don't want to think or say the wrong things! I am not sure i can wipe my own ass with out the Governemnt there helping me.

RE: Okay
By hr824 on 6/30/2010 2:51:54 PM , Rating: 1
So it's ok to spend trillions, suspend our rights to the patriot act, and start 2 wars because non Americans kill 3000 Americans but it's ok for Americans to kill 12,000 Americans a YEAR and we're just supposed to ignore it?

Stopping people from driving 6000lbs of metal while drunk is not "big brother" you moron it's enforcing the law.

RE: Okay
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2010 3:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
How did I know someone would bring up Wars and the Patriot Act... How predictable, how equally stupid. How unrelated to this discussion.

Look I'll make it easy for you, look -----------------

see that line? Ok, now this proposal crosses it. Got it?

There is a difference between breaking a law, and just assuming EVERYONE will so everyone has to deal with these devices in their car. It's over the line. End of discussion.

RE: Okay
By hr824 on 7/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: Okay
By kfonda on 6/30/2010 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 3
How about the fact that this would make everyone "Guilty unless proven innocent" by our cars. I personally do not drink and I damn sure should not have to pay more for a feature in a car that I have no use for.

If they want to help stop the drunk driving accidents, they should toughen the punishment for those that do it. One thing they should do is seize the car used. It's a lot harder to drive drunk when you don't have a car.

RE: Okay
By knutjb on 6/30/2010 7:52:35 PM , Rating: 2
There you go thinking. Personal responsibility, who needs it if the government has a bureaucrat to think for you. From my experience, the more people are micro-managed the more likely they are going to do stupid things.

Make something idiot proof, we build a better idiot.

RE: Okay
By daniyarm on 6/30/2010 4:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
12000 killed due to drunk driving

But 30000 killed to due to incompetent drivers

They are spending millions of dollars to protect 25% of those killed, while all they have to do is teach people how to really drive. Not this "answer 10 questions, drive around the block and here is your license" stuff. How about knowing at least 90% of ALL traffic laws, driving tests under different road and weather conditions and emergency situations.

How many hours does one have to spend learning how to fly before getting a pilots license?! Why is driving different? I know quiet a few people that can drive better after a couple of beers than most sober soccer moms.

RE: Okay
By pattycake0147 on 6/30/2010 10:57:58 PM , Rating: 2
At the same time there is a use for a device like this. If something like this can be implemented with minor cost to the purchase of a new vehicle, it should be done. Not long ago a ten-year-old boy was killed just a few blocks away from my house by a drunk driver. The boy was riding his bike on the sidewalk. The boy did nothing to warrant the tragedy, and it wouldn't have happened if the driver's car didn't start.

I don't care about it being big brother because in this case it could have saved an innocent boy's life. In my opinion it doesn't get much simpler than that.

RE: Okay
By knutjb on 7/1/2010 5:04:23 AM , Rating: 2
How about harsher sentences in the first place. South Dakota recently sent a four or five repeat offender to 20+ years. I have lost several friends and co-workers on both sides. The majority of serious DUIs I have seen were from repeat customers. Risk in life cannot be entirely prevented no matter how hard the politicians try.

I don't believe this tech will work all that well and someone will find a way to thwart it. Where is my right to presumed innocence? This is a gross invasion of privacy and unreasonable search no matter the so called good intent.

RE: Okay
By elgueroloco on 7/1/2010 6:41:05 PM , Rating: 2
You know how we could solve this without all these stupid devices? Take people's licenses away when they drive drunk. If they do it twice, they never get their license back, ever.

People will still break the law no matter what you do, and there will still be drunk drivers out there, but far fewer of them. And these stupid devices won't stop anything, since they will be easy to get around. Determined lawbreakers always find ways around crap like this.

RE: Okay
By fleshconsumed on 6/30/2010 10:19:40 AM , Rating: 4
It is a stupid idea. See jthistle reply. Far too many problems. What if device fails? Now you have to tow your car, sucks to be you. What if you it needs calibration, and you have to pay for it, sucks to be you again. Or what if, *gasp* you're being a designated driver and have to give a ride to your friends?

Don't get me wrong, I'm against drunk driving, but this is not a way to solve it. Just make tougher drunk driving laws and make sure they actually get enforced so that repeat offenders do lose their license.

RE: Okay
By Schrag4 on 6/30/2010 1:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
My opinion about penalties for drunk driving is that people who are drunk won't necessarily have good enough judgement to decide that it's not worth losing your license or going to jail over driving drunk. Hell, they're already ignoring the obvious possiblity that they could end up killing themselves or others. Not that I'm against stricter penalties, I just don't think they'll work.

However, I don't think disabling the car is the answer. Perhaps drunk drivers just need a reminder that they really are drunk. Perhaps this system should just give the driver a verbal warning that they should not be driving. Of course, the impaired driver may pay no more attention to that...

OR - perhaps this system should be mandatory for anyone that has been caught driving drunk. Don't treat everyone like criminals, just the ones who have already proven themselves...

RE: Okay
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2010 3:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
OR - perhaps this system should be mandatory for anyone that has been caught driving drunk. Don't treat everyone like criminals, just the ones who have already proven themselves...

They shouldn't be on the road anyway though. We need a serious One Strike law for that.

RE: Okay
By drycrust3 on 6/30/2010 12:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
Accidents, like cars breaking down, is often caused by being too lenient in your tolerances. In the case of cars, it is manufacturing tolerances. If you tighten up on the tolerances you expect in the manufacture of each individual part, then the car becomes more reliable and thus there are less breakdowns.
In the same way, if the tolerances we give to drivers is reduced, then accidents will go down too.
Being drunk is just one way a driver has of driving with much wider tolerances than normal. Drugs, hypothermia, tired, pride, depression, etc, are all things that encourage or cause a person to drive with unnecessarily wide tolerances.
For example, I see people driving along my local motorway far to close to the car in front; and it wouldn't be hard to make type of camera that films or photographs yea short sighted drivers.
To me, if you really do want to install something in a car, why not install governors set to the maximum legal speed limit of your country? And if it doesn't have one that is sensible, then get one that is!
Some years ago there was a guy who posted a question on the internet asking if such a thing was possible because his brother had been killed by a person speeding. The answer is "yes", the technology is here, right now, it doesn't cost a lot, and it can be installed on most new and existing vehicles.
So why not have it made mandetory that if you are caught speeding at any speed, then your car has yea governor fitted and it becomes a condition on your licence that you can only drive a vehicle with a governor. In addition, you could require all company vehicles to have the same fitted.

RE: Okay
By Digimonkey on 6/30/2010 12:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
There could be life saving reasons to go over the speed limit. Also there is such a thing as legal racing in street cars and governors can be easily circumvented.

RE: Okay
By Ammohunt on 6/30/2010 2:34:10 PM , Rating: 2
While they are at it then need to include THC detectors as well.

RE: Okay
By Jeffk464 on 7/1/2010 12:40:36 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a great idea to me. They should be mandatory, and the cost should be made up for by laying of cops that would otherwise be spending their time dealing with drinking and driving related stuff. If you could lay off around 5% of cops, it would be paid for.

What about errors
By jthistle on 6/30/2010 10:07:16 AM , Rating: 2
So, what happens when the device malfunctions? Would it have to be calibrated on a regular basis? How much do you think they would charge for a calibration?

RE: What about errors
By callmeroy on 6/30/2010 10:24:55 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking to...not to mention how "accurate" is it in the first place...

Also as someone who drinks less in a year than most 24-35 year olds drink during a single summer weekend party - I also have shallow concerns about this will it affect my interior's look? I don't want some gaudy looking ugly thing screwing up my nice interior.

If the concerns of accuracy, cost, reliability and aesthetics are addressed properly -- I have zero problem with this being in my car....I know it'll never be used while I'm driving - I don't drink.

RE: What about errors
By tmouse on 6/30/2010 1:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
My best guess would be that the device would evolve from the near-infrared absorption spectroscopy devices being developed today. The accuracy and reliability are very good, cost is high (but that's probably the result of having a small market). I thought I read somewhere there was work being done on using the eyes so you may have to look at a light or possibly put a digit in a hole for a skin reading. The current units use the arm and are being field tested by law enforcement.

RE: What about errors
By Jeffk464 on 7/1/2010 12:42:56 AM , Rating: 2
What happens if your ignition malfunctions, you get it fixed.

teriffic! it's <i>optional</i>
By inperfectdarkness on 6/30/2010 9:20:16 AM , Rating: 2 can we make black boxes optional too?

RE: teriffic! it's <i>optional</i>
By MrBlastman on 6/30/2010 10:13:35 AM , Rating: 2
The difference is, where black boxes are after the fact, this device prevents dipwads who think it is their right to drive while intoxicated--from getting on the road. These guys are scumsuckers and among the lowest filth on the planet. Each time they snuff out someone's life, they typically live to see the next day themselves due to the rubber state the alcohol puts them in.

This is one of those times where I truly hate the invasion of privacy but see some potential to save lives. It is something I'm conflicted on.

Fortunately for you, I don't see this system coming to pass anytime soon as from how I see it, I fail to see how it will be practically implemented. How do you both collect breath samples while being non-intrusive _and_ manage to scan skin and tissue without beaming into someones face. What if they live up north and are wearing a scarf or gloves? I see a lot of obstacles to them making this unintrusive to those who aren't habitual drunk drivers.

RE: teriffic! it's <i>optional</i>
By integr8d on 6/30/2010 8:56:22 PM , Rating: 1
There are plenty of things that can be done to save lives. Outlaw tobacco. Lives will be saved. Outlaw guns. Lives will be saved. Outlaw NASCAR. Lives will be saved. Outlaw running. Think of all the heart attacks that will be prevented. Outlaw fast food. Outlaw roller coasters.

The gov doesn't care one bit. This is just as silly as triangle-shaped stop lights. It smells of some company pushing lobby dollars into Wash to get a law passed that will use, surprise, their products.

Welcome to 2012, where Obama is teasing $7/gallon gas (real) and $50k Ford Escorts outfitted with black boxes, alcohol detectors and mandatory health care.

RE: teriffic! it's <i>optional</i>
By integr8d on 6/30/2010 8:57:06 PM , Rating: 1
Oh yeah. Wasn't health care supposed to be optional?

Yeah right
By kchase731 on 6/30/2010 10:55:34 AM , Rating: 3
Do you think they will actually use this? think about all the revenue that DD generates. Fines, lawyers, programs, insurance hikes. The government hardly cares if they protect a few more people. Its all about money. DD is like an additional tax that they leverage additional government spending against. By stopping DD completely the government looses BIG $$$ and so do the attorneys. this little pipe dream will never happen, but they will "test" it and then try it, and then determine there is something fundamentally wrong with they can save face, and act like they care about the people.

just keep paying taxes and voting for them. thats all they really care about.

RE: Yeah right
By AEvangel on 6/30/2010 11:31:40 AM , Rating: 2
I agree...too much money is made by the Legal system in this country to really ever advocate something like this seriously.

By LordSojar on 6/30/2010 11:55:07 AM , Rating: 1
...both our borders are not secure...

Yeh, I know right? Those damned illegal Canadian immigrants and their job stealing! How will we ever stop them. Better get to work on the Wall of Freedom!

*turns off sarcasm*

Drunk drivers are one of the downfalls of society. Provided this doesn't raise the cost of the cars but anything noticeable (i.e. $100 USD or less), this is a wonderful addition. There is literally no reason to drive drunk. There are things that need to be regulated, and while everyone can bitch all day that big brother needs to get out of their business, you driving drunk is MY BUSINESS, and screw you. Anything that keeps you off the road is a huge plus to me; since I can't tell you myself, better to have big brother giving you the proverbial finger for me. This is government advocacy shining in a great light compared to most of the other bullshit they attempt to shove down our throats.

Last time one of my buddies tried to drive drunk, he got punched out by me. Unacceptable, no matter the circumstances, PERIOD. You have no excuse, so shut the hell up.

By Kurz on 6/30/2010 12:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
Actually thats how my illegal father came into the country.
Flight from Brazil to canada and skirted over the border.

By Kurz on 6/30/2010 12:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well... I should say he is legal now.
And he does pay taxes ;)

More pork
By Fracture on 6/30/2010 9:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
due to the rising costs of technology

I smell someone lying! They're obviously just going for a money grab before the project gets shut down because no car manufacturer will implement this.

RE: More pork
By AssBall on 6/30/2010 1:29:26 PM , Rating: 1
I smell those lobbying assholes at MADD doing their thing again. Warping statistics and peddling their B.S.

By IcePickFreak on 6/30/2010 12:29:04 PM , Rating: 3
They already have these that they install in OWI offenders vehicles. It's an ignition interlock and the vehicle will not start without using it. Granted they don't install them as often as they should, but how did they jump from that to now wanting to install them into every vehicle? Surely it can't be because someone(s) in Washington is trying to make a buck.

How about an in-car IQ test to keep the sober idiots off the road as well while we're at it?

Detection failures
By ians55 on 6/30/2010 1:25:14 PM , Rating: 3
Really nice idea. So, what if you give a ride to your drunk friend? Will it properly detect that alcohol fumes are from passenger and not from driver? Also, how about "Hey kid! Can you sit here on driver's seat while I'm starting the car. I'll give you 5 bucks."

By AEvangel on 6/30/2010 10:18:04 AM , Rating: 2
The country is broke, Vets coming home from over seas are waiting up to 6 months to get treatment for mental health issues, both our borders are not secure and Congress is wanting to waste on aa BS issue like this.

I just love how Congress is trying to protect us from ourselves.

"Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." ~ C.S. Lewis

By Chiisuchianu on 6/30/2010 6:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
Government knows best! Thanks liberals!

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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