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A world without drunk drivers? Technology could make it possible

Amanda Mills, USCDCP
Public domain

More than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2013.

And a large number of those accidents involve  drivers who had never been stopped for driving under the influence before.

New technologies are being developed that have the potential to eliminate many of those accidents, if widely adopted. One version uses touch sensors on the wheel. Another analyzes the air in the cabin.

On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a prototype car equipped with mock-up technology that researchers will use to examine driver interactions with the system.

"(This technology) has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets," says NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, "and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths."

NHTSA's goal is to complete testing and development within the next five years, allowing introduction of the technologies into real-world vehicles.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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