The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a five-year extension of its cooperative agreement with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) to research advanced alcohol detection technology.
NHTSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit organization funded by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Under the partnership, NHTSA is working with ACTS to develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) that's noninvasive and poses no inconvenience to sober drivers. The goal is to create a system that can accurately and reliably detect when a driver is above the legal alcohol limit of 0.08 BAC. The automatic system would be enabled whenever the vehicle is started.
"In this age of innovation, smart technology may be the breakthrough we need to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and endangering the safety of others on our roads," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The DADSS Research Program has shown significant promise to date, offering real potential in the future to prevent several thousand deaths annually."
In 2012, deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011.
The DADSS program was authorized under The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act. During the first year of the extended agreement, NHTSA and ACTS are contributing a combined total of $6,539,400 to help advance long-term research into DADSS.
Over the next few years, ACTS and NHTSA will explore the feasibility, potential benefits and challenges associated with widespread voluntary use of DADSS. They will also begin working to resolve any public policy or consumer acceptance issues that might impede adoption once the technology is commercially available.
By early 2015, a research vehicle that incorporates two different technological approaches to measuring BAC -- touch-based and breath-based -- will be available for testing in a pilot field trial. Research using laboratory-scale prototype detection devices is already underway, while testing with on-road prototype devices is expected within the next few years. Information on the program is available at www.dadss.org.
The research vehicle will incorporate technologies developed by Takata-TruTouch Technologies and Autoliv Development AB. As the video below shows, advanced alcohol detection technology trials have already demonstrated applications for vehicle fleets.
Here's another video that demonstrates this same technology offered in an in-vehicle application.