TECHNOLOGY

Did Will Be Safety Alcohol Detection In Cars?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) began research in February 2008 to try to find potential in-vehicle approaches to the problem of alcohol-impaired driving. Members of ACTS comprise motor vehicle manufacturers representing approximately 99 percent of light vehicle sales in the U.S. This cooperative research partnership, known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program, is exploring the feasibility, the potential benefits of, and the public policy challenges associated with a more widespread use of non-invasive technology to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. The 2008 cooperative agreement between NHTSA and ACTS for Phases I and II outlined a program of research to assess the state of detection technologies that are capable of measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) and to support the creation and testing of prototypes and subsequent hardware that could be installed in vehicles. This paper will outline the technological approaches and program status.

Alcohol-impaired driving (defined as driving at or above the legal limit in all states of 0.08 g/dL or 0.08 percent) is one of the primary causes of motor vehicle fatalities on U.S. roads every year and in 2011 alone resulted in almost 10,000 deaths. There are a variety of countermeasures that have been effective in reducing this excessive toll, many of which center around strong laws and visible enforcement. Separate from these successful countermeasures, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) began research in February 2008 aimed at identifying potential in-vehicle approaches to the problem of alcoholimpaired driving. Members of ACTS comprise motor vehicle manufacturers representing approximately 99 percent of light vehicle sales in the U.S. This cooperative research partnership, known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program, is exploring the feasibility, the potential benefits of, and the public policy challenges associated with a more widespread use of non-invasive technology to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. The 2008 cooperative agreement between NHTSA and ACTS (the “Initial Cooperative Agreement”) for Phases I and II outlined a program of research to assess the state of detection technologies that are capable of measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) and to support the creation and testing of prototypes and subsequent hardware that could be installed in vehicles. Since the program’s inception it has been clearly understood that for in-vehicle alcohol detection technologies to be acceptable for use among drivers, many of whom do not drink and drive, they must be seamless with the driving task, they must be non-intrusive, that is, accurate, fast, reliable, durable, and require little or no maintenance. To that end, the DADSS program is developing non-intrusive technologies that could prevent the vehicle from being driven when the device registers that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit (currently 0.08 percent throughout the United States). To achieve these challenging technology goals, very stringent performance specifications are required. These specifications have been formally documented in the DADSS Performance Specifications, which provide a template to guide the overall research effort. Another important challenge will be to ensure that the driving public will accept in-vehicle alcohol detection technology once it meets the stringent criteria for in-vehicle use. A parallel effort is underway to engage the driving public in discussions about the technologies being researched so that their feedback can be incorporated into the DADSS Performance Specifications as early as possible. The challenges to meet these Zaouk-2 requirements are considerable, but the potential life-saving benefits are significant. An analysis of NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) estimates that if driver BACs were no greater than 0.08 percent, 7,082 of the 10,228 alcohol–impaired road user fatalities occurring in 2010 would have been prevented.