Coming soon: New car tech that won’t let your car start if you’re drunk

Written by Arstechnica
  • Arstechnica
  • 3 years ago


I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it’s working on two new technologies that will prevent your car from starting if you’re drunk; or rather, if it detects that your blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit.

In most of the developed world, both roads and cars are getting safer and safer. In the US, driving-related deaths were down almost 25 percent between 2004 and 2014; in the UK, the number of fatalities almost halved in the past decade. Still, according to the NHTSA, a full 31 percent of road fatalities in 2013 in the US were related to alcohol use—which is why it’s now working on the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADDS) program.

At an event in Washington DC, the NHTSA unveiled a test vehicle with two prototype DADDS solutions. One is a sensor, located either in the steering wheel or driver-side door, that can “smell” your breath; essentially a breathalyser. The other system is a touch sensor, either on the ignition button or gear shift, that can scan your blood-alcohol content (BAC). If you’re beyond the legal limit (0.08% in the US, England, and Wales, 0.05% in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and most of the EU), the car won’t start.

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