Are Drunk Driver-Proof Cars on The Horizon?

Jun 05, 2015 10:50 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

New technology is being worked on that could one day ease the minds of motorists everywhere by reducing the amount of drunk drivers on the road.

The technology is being created by the "Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety" program, a collaborative effort between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help lower the amount of people killed each year due to drunk driving.

On average, 10,000 Americans are killed each year due to drunk driving crashes. The new equipment would help lower that number significantly since drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 would not be able to start a car equipped with the technology, according to a DADSS video.

Two separate systems are currently being explored by the DADSS team: a Touch-Based System and a Breath-Based System.

For the touch-based technology, touch-sensors can be added to a car's ignition button or gear shift where a sensor would read the blood alcohol level of a driver "below the skins surface."

The breath-based technology works by "pulling" a driver's exhaled breath into a sensor, which could be added to the driver's side door or the steering column of a vehicle.

Each system is so accurate it can measure the alcohol in a driver's blood in less than a second, according to the video.

Even better, the systems can be programmed to a "zero-tolerance policy" for drivers under 21 to make sure they aren't driving after consuming alcohol illegally.

DADSS recently demonstrated their new technology for members of Congress and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving with the hopes of getting the technology into vehicles around 2020. The organization says that the technology could be added to vehicles like Lane Departure Warning, Emergency Brake Assist or other safety features.

Costs of the technology have not been announced yet, nor has the NHTSA said if it plans on eventually making the system a requirement in all cars.

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