NHTSA and GM want to mandate the technology to end drunk driving

NHTSA and GM want to mandate the technology to end drunk driving

Cars are already very smart. They can tell when you’re not paying attention to the road, they know if you’re taking your hands off the wheel, and they can even tell when you’re feeling sleepy. Some cars will flash the little coffee cup symbol when they think you’re too tired to drive. But what if they could determine if the driver was drunk? That’s what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing, and GM supports the idea.

NHTSA has been trying to get drunk driving detection technology into cars for years. However, it recently issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for “impaired driving prevention technology.” In short, NHTSA wants to establish standards for what constitutes impaired driving and the technology needed to detect it. GM is working to help create such technology.

“We have been working with regulators on this,” GM CEO Mary Barra said during an interview at the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., on December 13. Car News. “We have the technology to do that. I think that technology is coming and I think it will be beneficial for everyone.”

Drunk driving is one of the biggest causes of death on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 37 people die every day due to drunk driving in America, which equates to approximately one death every 39 minutes. In 2021, 13,384 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, which is 14% more than in 2020. Naturally, NHTSA wants to prevent those deaths, or as many of them as possible, altogether.

How will cars be able to detect drunk drivers and will this technology be mandatory on all new cars? Currently, the most common drunk driving detector is the breathalyzer test, which determines a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) from their breath. Unfortunately, this is not a completely accurate method of detection, as it is inconsistent. A person’s size, diet, and alcohol tolerance can affect their level of impairment, relative to their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Cars can tell you that you’re tired by monitoring your eyes, the smoothness of your inputs, and whether you swerve too much. But can they do the same with drink driving and how accurate is it? If a driver somehow cheats the system and the car says he’s ready to go but he’s drunk and crashes, what happens? In addition, drunk driving is not the only form of impairment. Many medications and other medications can leave drivers unable to drive, as well as fatigued, and even distracted.

When will this technology work? If it uses eye tracking and driver input, it’s already too late, and the drunk driver is already on the road. If he detects a defect in driving in this way, should he slow the car until it stops and then stop it? Whatever regulations NHTSA issues, they must meet the National Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety Act, which means they must be “reasonable, practical, and reduce traffic crashes and traffic-related fatalities, among other factors.”

There are countless questions about how this technology will work and how it will be implemented. It will certainly be interesting to see how regulators define what constitutes drink driving and how automakers implement detection technology if it becomes mandatory.

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