Two technologies -- this photo from a NHTSA video shows the breath-testing technology -- are in development for the DADSS program.

NHTSA's Chief Touts DADSS Technologies

NHTSA demonstrated prototypes of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety on June 4. Administrator Mark Rosekind predicted research needed to support its use in vehicles will be completed in the next five years.

NHTSA invited two members of Congress and two other special guests to its headquarters June 4 to see a demonstration of what its Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety project, known as DADSS, is working on. The project, on which NHTSA has collaborated with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety since 2008, is developing two in-vehicle technologies to detect whether a driver has a blood-alcohol level above .08. If an illegal level were detected, the vehicle would not start. One technology mounted on the steering column would analyze the driver's breath, while the other is a touch-based technology using a sensor inside the button that is pushed to start the vehicle's engine or in the gear shift.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind wrote a post about the demonstration on DOT's Fast Lane blog in which he predicted the research needed to support DADSS' use in vehicles will be completed in the next five years.

NHTSA’s guests were U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, described by Rosekind as "two of Congress’ leading voices against drunk driving"; Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and Rob Strassburger, president and CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS). They looked over a vehicle with a mockup of DADDS technology that researchers will use to test driver interactions with DADSS.

"Drunk driving takes a life every 58 minutes in America. But it doesn't have to be this way. And soon, we might have a technology that essentially takes the keys out of drunk drivers' hands before they can hurt or kill our neighbors and loved ones," Rosekind wrote. "When installed in a vehicle, the system will instantly and accurately detect if a driver is above the legal alcohol limit and will prevent the vehicle from moving. With 10,076 people lost to drunk driving in 2013, you can understand why everyone at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is excited about the possibility of bringing this technology to our nation's cars and trucks."

ACTS represents 17 automobile manufacturers.

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