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Cars Will Soon Automatically Disable Themselves if They Detect You’re Drunk

The alcohol detection system could be an optional addition to most commercial cars.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

New automotive technology looks to put an end to drunk driving once and for all, by introducing a new system in which a vehicle will be able to detect if alcohol is in their driver’s system, before automatically shutting down.

Developed by the American National Agency for Traffic Safety (NHTSA), the Driver Alcohol Detection System has been in production since 2008, and can measure the alcohol level in a driver’s blood in less than a second. If it measures in at above 0.8, the legal limit in all US states, the car will not start.

 

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If a car featuring the system has been purchased for an individual under 21 years old, their parents can also opt for the vehicle to exhibit a “zero-tolerance policy”, with the allowable alcohol measurement taken down to zero.

DrunkDrivingNHSTA

The system utilizes two technologies in order to correctly assess whether or not a driver is over the limit, with a breath-based system and a touch-based system both working in tandem. The breath-based system, located by either the car’s steering wheel or the driver’s door, takes in the driver’s exhaled breath before examining the molecules in it, while the touch-based system monitors alcohol levels below the skin’s surface using sensors in the car’s ignition button or gear shift.

The goal is eventually for the Driver Alcohol Detection System to be made available as a safety option alongside the standard emergency brake assist and lane departure warning, with it scheduled to be ready for commercialization by 2018.

Photo: Getty Images