Feds urge industry to keep backing research on in-vehicle system

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged the auto industry to continue supporting research on technology advances that could end most drunken driving.

NHTSA Chief David Strickland wrote the CEOs of major automakers on Aug. 8 telling them that the research backed by automakers and the federal government to develop an in-vehicle system that could prevent drunken drivers from starting a car shows great promise. He thanked those who are helping fund the project — including Detroit’s Big Three automakers — and urged them to keep supporting the project and asked others to join the effort.

The group is working with two auto suppliers with different approaches that “are shown to be very, very effective,” Strickland said at a speech last week. “We probably have another five years of work to go,” Strickland said, before it’s possible one of these cars could be on the roads. “It will be available as an option by manufacturers, and I think it’s a real way forward.”

The research has been ongoing since 2008. Congress approved $5.3 million for this budget year for alcohol detection research; Congress has authorized slightly more for the budget year that starts Oct. 1.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Strickland noted that about 10,000 people are killed each year as a result of drunken driving; tens of thousands more are injured.

The industry is helping to fund the project through the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety. NHTSA staff and the group are currently working on a new agreement for the next phase.

Safety advocates praise the project. “The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety technology has the potential to eliminate drunk driving in America,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.

Source: Detroit News


Last updated on: 2013-08-26 | Link to this post