Federal Regulators Launch New Auto Safety Initiative Aimed at Reducing DUI-Related Traffic Fatalities

By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is putting the spotlight on auto safety this month as it unveils the latest program aimed at DUI-related reducing traffic fatalities. This time, the government agency is using technology as the cornerstone of its initiative.

According to theLos Angeles Times, federal regulators plan on using sophisticated vehicle technology to stop drunken driving, prevent driver error and ensure safety equipment is properly used all before the car is even started.

“Ninety percent of all crashes have an element of human error,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland told the LA Times. “We really need to focus on what more we can do to address these risks.”

Although auto makers have historically protested against many federally-mandated safety initiatives, the latest push by the NHTSA is gaining applause.

“It is just the right thing to do,” Heather Rosenker, a General Motors Co. spokeswoman told the LA Times.

Other safety groups like the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) have also heralded the government’s move to protect drivers with the use of better, mandated technology. According to the IIHS, new federal guidelines will improve roadway safety which can ultimately lead to a decrease in car accident injuries and fatalities.

So, what exactly can we look forward to?

You’ve probably already heard of much of the technology: collision warning signals, automatic braking systems and seatbelt chime systems. Government officials are hoping these latest technological advances will be standardized equipment in the coming years.

But the latest innovation would be an impressive milestone. That’s because the NHTSA and 17 auto manufacturers are collaborating on a device that would measure blood alcohol content (BAC) by breath or touch prior to starting the vehicle. The technology dubbed “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety” (DADSS) would prevent drivers who exceed the legal limit of 0.08% BAC to start and operate the vehicle.

The truth is that drunken driving is a ruthless killer on our roadways. Unfortunately, nearly 10,000 people died from alcohol-related car accidents last year alone.

To ensure the most successful deployment of the device, the NHTSA and automakers are urged to create a near-flawless product in terms of operation. Nothing will make a driver angrier or consumers more impatient than a device that fails or prevents a vehicle from operating when BAC levels are within legal limits. Even though the government has the right idea in mind, the initiative stands a chance to flop if it isn’t executed near-perfectly. Glitches could tarnish the intentions of the NHTSA – that is, to protect our roadways and save lives.

The NHSTA plans to test the technology over the next two years prior to its official launch.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines is the founder of the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC, a legal firm in San Diego specializing in car accident injury and fatalities. Mike is nationally-recognized for his contributions to numerous magazines, newspapers and industry publications on accident and injury prevention. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook andTwitterto stay in touch with the latest in safety innovation.