Cars in the United States will refuse to be driven by drunk drivers

Cars in the United States will refuse to be driven by drunk drivers

Cars in the United States will soon be able to refuse to drive if the driver is intoxicated, thanks to sensors capable of detecting alcohol on the breath or through the skin. However, these technologies are a challenge to privacy and civil liberties advocates.

Cars in the United States will refuse to be driven by drunk drivers

President Joe Biden signed a law this week that will force automakers to incorporate these features in the coming years.

In a country where drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people each year, and where the allowable rate of alcohol is on average higher than in many other Western countries, the new legislation is generating a lot of excitement.

“This is the beginning of the end of drunk driving, I cry tears of joy,” responded Alex Otte, president of MADD, an NGO that sees this law as a way to save thousands of lives.

But the text of the law also raises questions: what will happen if the car breaks down and refuses to start? Will vehicles potentially become witnesses against their owner in the event of a lawsuit?

U.S. authorities have three years, potentially renewable, to rule on these issues.

The technology for that purpose is almost ready. Researchers have developed sensors that suck in and test the driver’s breath.

Blow and start

They have also developed a scanner, integrated with the engine start button, that measures the level of alcohol in the blood vessels under the skin of the fingers, using infrared light.

These inventions were developed through collaboration between an association of automobile manufacturers for road safety and the competent authorities.

Anti-cheating systems will be integrated to prevent the car from starting if the alcohol level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, in force in most US states, explained Robert Strassburger, president of ACTS.

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