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3/17/2014 - Automakers continue researching anti-drunk driving technology

Alcohol detection technology systems may help reduce the impact of drunk driving.

St. Patrick's Day, a day to celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick, initially started as a religious holiday where Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking were lifted.  Today however, the holiday has morphed into a celebration of festivals where many often overindulge in traditional Irish fair, followed by kicking back one too many alcoholic beverages.  Knowing that drinking and driving risks can be heightened during this time of the year it's important to be cautious of others on the road, and if partaking in the festivities be sure to have a designated driver.

In an effort to reduce the number of auto insurance claims resulting from impaired driving, more than one dozen automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recently been conducting research of how alcohol detection technology systems can be best implemented into today's vehicles, so that the roads can be made safer.

Late last year, the NHTSA made this announcement, stating that it and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety - which is made up of 15 automobile manufacturers - would extend their efforts in researching how technology can make it more difficult for individuals to get behind the wheel in an inebriated state.

Anthony Foxx, secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, indicated that far too many lives have been lost resulting from drunk driving.

"We will continue to work closely with all of our federal, state and local safety partners, including the automotive industry to combat drunk driving with new, lifesaving technologies," said Foxx.

NHTSA and ACTS are working on developing a program called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS. Once work on the design and function of the technology is completed, the ultimate goal is for all vehicles to have one so that it can accurately detect when a driver has a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit as soon as they start their car.

"The DADSS Research Program has shown significant promise to date, offering real potential in the future to prevent several thousand deaths annually," said former NHTSA administrator David Strickland.

Drunk driving incidents often occur during holiday events. In 2012, approximately half of all the crashes where alcohol was a contributing factor took place on New Year's Day, according to NHTSA statistics and mentioned by nonprofit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving in a press release.

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