Your Next Car May Refuse To Start if It Thinks You’ve Had a Drink
Warning lights and noises are a regular part of the driving experience in vehicles that increasingly nag us about tire pressure, seatbelts, and engine status. Sometimes the alerts are helpful, but a new round of innovations mandated by the infrastructure bill might disable our cars if built-in technology determines that we’re intoxicated—or if, as seems inevitable, it just goes haywire. The one guarantee is that we’ll have to pay for the added complexity as we’re forced to use nanny-state systems jointly developed by the auto industry and the federal government.
“Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a final rule prescribing a Federal motor vehicle safety standard under section 30111 of title 49, United States Code, that requires passenger motor vehicles manufactured after the effective date of that standard to be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology,” reads language buried in the massive and recently passed federal infrastructure bill.
The bill defines the technology as a system that can “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired” and “passively and accurately detect whether the blood alcohol concentration of a driver” is above 0.08 percent. If the system decides that a driver is being naughty, it will “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected.”
Certainly not coincidentally, the auto industry recently unveiled technology that would satisfy the requirements of the bill by basically building a breathalyzer into every car.
“Today, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, Inc. (ACTS), a Virginia non-profit, announced that the first product equipped with new alcohol detection technology will be available for open licensing in commercial vehicles for the first time ever, in late 2021,” the group announced on June 2 of this year. “The new technology is the result of extensive research, development and testing by the DADSS Program, which is a public–private partnership between ACTS, which represents the world’s leading automakers, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”
For this first pass at integrating alcohol-detection technology into cars and trucks “drivers provide a puff of breath directed towards a small sensor, which can be outfitted in the steering column or side door trim.” The initial system is intended for fleet vehicles, though the federal legislation makes it clear that the goal is to build the technology into all new automobi
Article from Reason.com