New technology could stop drunk driving before it starts

Residents of Texas who are concerned about drunk driving might be interested in new technology that could stop drunk driving by disabling the vehicle when the driver is intoxicated. A test car equipped with the technology was demonstrated in Washington, D.C., on June 4.

The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the alcohol detection system is the first of its kind. With the system in place, the blood alcohol concentration of a driver is measured in less than one second. If it is above the nationwide legal limit of 0.08, the vehicle is prevented from moving.

Two different technologies are being considered for the system. One is a breath analyzer, and the other is touch-based and uses infrared light that shines through the finger. The NHTSA says that the goal is to eventually make this technology a safety option in new vehicles. NHTSA officials says that they are supported by Congress and industry, but that there is still much work to do. They say that the technology has the potential to prevent drunk driving accidents and deaths in specific populations, such as commercial fleets or teenage drivers. Drunk driving kills about 10,000 people in the U.S. annually. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that this new technology could save about 7,000 lives a year.

Accidents caused by drunk drivers can change lives forever. Injured victims may face long periods of recovery during which they are unable to work while their medical bills pile up. In many cases, an attorney for a victim can establish negligence through a review of the accident investigation report and use that as the basis of a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from the responsible party.

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