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The NHTSB Wants Blood Alcohol Monitoring Technology Installed on All Motor Vehicles

December 21, 2022

According to an article published on, the National Transportation Safety Board is urging lawmakers to pass legislation that requires all new vehicles to have blood alcohol monitoring systems that will stop an intoxicated person from drunk driving. Drunk Driving Prevention Technology could significantly reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents, which is one of the leading causes of highway fatalities in the United States. 

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, traffic fatalities in the United States are at "crisis levels." Last year, approximately 43,000 people were tragically killed in traffic accidents, and this was the highest number in more than 15 years. The early estimates showed that traffic accident fatalities rose in the first half of 2022. However, the number of fatalities began to drop again from April through June, and government traffic safety authorities hope this trend continues. 

The National Transportation Safety Board does not have the regulatory authority to create laws. Therefore, the National Transportation Safety Board will ask other agencies and lawmakers to act. If the Bill is revised and passed, it could be effective by 2026.

NTSB Chairman Jennifer Homendy stated that the NTSB and the NHTSA see the tragic number of fatalities, and the agency is working to make sure it's doing all that it can to save lives. The NTSB has been pushing NHTSA to examine alcohol monitoring technologies since 2012. Homendy believes that the faster this alcohol monitoring technology is implemented, the more deaths can be prevented.

The proposal also asks for systems that monitor a driver's actions by making sure that they are alert while driving. Many vehicles today have cameras that are pointed at the driver, and these systems could one day limit impaired driving. But perfecting the alcohol monitoring technologies will take time. 

A group of 16 automakers is currently funding research on alcohol monitoring. The group is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. The group retained a Swedish company to investigate technology that would automatically test the driver's breath for alcohol and prevent the vehicle from moving should the driver be deemed impaired. The sensor would determine the driver's blood alcohol by analyzing the driver's breath.

Another company is developing technology that reads the driver's blood alcohol concentration by scanning the driver's fingers. That technology will be ready by 2025, while the breath analysis technology is likely to be ready by 2024. Then it might take another one or two more years for automakers to get the technology into their new vehicles.

In 2020, more than 11,600 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, according to NHTSA data. This is 30% of all traffic fatalities and is a 14% increase over 2019, the NTSB reported.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stated that this technology would save thousands of lives annually. MADD reports that over 9,000 people are tragically killed in drunken-driving accidents every year. Alex Otte, the President of MADD, said that this tech could eliminate the number one killer on the roadway.

Congress has given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) three years to create a final bill for anti-drunk driving technology. The Bill will provide auto manufacturers with the time they need to comply with the law. Opponents of the Bill sent letters to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expressing that driving monitoring systems that rely on cameras could produce false positives.

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