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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: August 7, 2013
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NHTSA urges the auto industry to continue research on in-vehicle systems

Washington – David Strickland, the head of NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), has urged major automakers to continue research on developing in-vehicle systems that will prevent drunk driving.

The NHSTA Chief hopes that advances in technology will help bring an end to drunken driving. He wrote to CEOs of major players in the auto industry on 8 August, 2013, telling then to keep backing research on in-vehicle systems that will prevent drunken drivers from starting a car. He also thanked those who are already helping fund the project and urged others to join the effort too. Detroit’s Big Three automakers are supporting the project and they were urged to continue their support.

The research which has been ongoing since 2008 got $5.3 million approved by the Congress in this budget year. The funds are spent on alcohol detection research and a slightly higher budget has been allocated by the Congress for the budget year that starts 1 October, 2013.

In his speech last week, Strickland said that the group is working with two auto suppliers with different approaches and they have shown to be “very, very effective.” However, Strickland said that it will take at least another five years before one of these new cars is available to the public, but “It will be available as an option by manufacturers, and I think it’s a real way forward.”

Strickland also shared some statistics in his speech, stating that approximately 10,000 people are killed each year as a result of drunken driving. The number of people who are injured in drunken driving related accidents is way higher, in tens of thousands. According to Strickland, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety is funding the project to help the auto industry. At the moment, NHSTA and the group are working on a new generation for the next phase.

“A tangible result of that work will be demonstrated later this year, when a research vehicle including both touch-based and breath-based detection technologies is available for further evaluation. I have referred to it as a ‘moonshot’ for traffic safety with initially long odds but the potential for dramatically powerful results if we are successful,” he wrote.

The project named “The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety technology has the potential to eliminate drunk driving in America” is being praised by safety advocated, particularly MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

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