But what if there were a way to prevent intoxicated individuals from driving cars in the first place? This idea is what's motivating the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), which is the product of a partnership between a group of automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA recently extended its agreement with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety in an effort to help develop a way for vehicle to automatically detect whether a person is too drunk to drive.
Currently, the only mechanism for preventing inebriated people from driving is through ignition interlock devices, which require a person to blow into a tube before the vehicle will start. The goal of the DADSS is to design this software and/or machinery directly into the vehicle in an effective yet unobtrusive way. One possible option is to embed a touch-based sensor into a vehicle's controls instead of a breath-based one. Ideally, the sensor would be able to identify excessive levels of alcohol in the blood and then render the vehicle inoperable. The agreement calls for a commercially-viable technology by 2018 (when the new agreement ends) and the establishment of a prototype by the end of next year.
To be sure, the goal of this effort is laudable; but as with most great ideas, its feasibility will be determined by the final details of the finished product.