A couple of years ago, USA Today ranked Wisconsin number two on its list of the most drunken states. Only North Dakota was ranked worse.
High alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in drunk driving. But researchers say a life-saving change is on the way.
Alcohol detection sensors have been developed and are ready to be installed into millions of vehicles, from the biggest SUV to the smallest cars on the roads. Safety advocates say that doing so would virtually eliminate drunk driving auto accidents that kill thousands of people and result in hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.
Engineers are working on developing DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) that would use two technologies to detect alcohol in drivers.
One technology will capture and test the driver’s breath. It uses an infrared light to precisely calculate a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Note: the legal BAC limit in Wisconsin is .08 percent.
The other tech is touch-based, so it will be built into the vehicle’s ignition button or gear shift or some other surface that people will have to touch before the vehicle can be driven.
Quick and quiet
DADSS is to be a passive system, meaning that unlike ignition interlock systems courts order convicted drunk drivers to install in their vehicles, DADSS is to be quick, quiet and unobtrusive – unless it detects an illegal level of alcohol in the driver. It will then prevent the vehicle from being driven.
Former DADSS project manager Bud Zaouk said the goal is for the system to collect a sample, measure it and then decide whether or not the vehicle is to be disabled in “less than the blink of an eye.”
He added that “the idea here is we do not want to inconvenience the driver.”
Ready to go
According to a news report, DADSS has been in development for more than a decade, but it has advanced to the point that commercial fleets will install the technology in their vehicles later this year.
The goal is to introduce the alcohol sensing systems in passenger cars by 2025, and then into all new vehicles sold in the U.S. That’s when the goal of eliminating drunk driving – and the pain and grief it causes – will be in reach.