By Hayley Granton, Special for USDR.
Drinking and driving never mixes. Nevertheless, countless thousands of Americans still get behind the wheel of their vehicles each year, against their better judgments. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,878 people were killed in crashes involving participants were under the influence of alcohol. The NHTSA also notes that one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. In spite of these statistics, many people are still determined to be at the wheel whenever they had too much to drink.
Law enforcement already uses Breathalyzers and other alcohol detection devices to catch drunk drivers, but the existing technology works at a point where a drunk driver already presents his or herself as a danger on the roads. As a result, there are new technologies being put in place to prevent instances of drunk driving before it even begins. Lawmakers hope that the following technologies are made available as standard features on new vehicles in the near future.
Touch-Based Alcohol Sensors
Touch-based sensors detect alcohol through the use of infrared light. The light shines through the finger and detects any alcohol present within the tissue. The optical signature given off by the alcohol prevents the vehicle from moving. It is likely that auto manufacturers will place such a sensor on or near the ignition/start button.
Breath-Based Alcohol Sensors
Located around the steering wheel, this non-contact approach calculates how much alcohol is present in the driver’s breath. This is accomplished through the use of infrared light. As the alcohol molecules become excited by the infrared light, the sensor captures the amount of molecules present, locking down the vehicle whenever the legal limit of .08 is passed.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NHTSA, Google and a number of other major companies and agencies are hard at work researching and developing vehicles capable of driving themselves. Driverless vehicles are considered the next step towards eliminating drunk driving, since these vehicles can simply take a drunk driver home if he or she is not fit to drive themselves.
Regardless of these new technologies, there are times when more old-school methods work best. Having a designated driver on hand is an effective deterrent against drunk driving; since those were consuming alcohol don’t have to drive at all. Calling for taxi to take you home is also preferable to being behind the wheel of any vehicle if you’re heavily intoxicated.
Keep in mind that law enforcement officials have plenty of testing methods at their disposal to seek out drunk drivers, including urine tests. Suhre & Associates has plenty of useful information on DUI testing.
Hayley is a freelance blogger and mother to two beautiful young girls. Away from the office she enjoys spending time in nature.