A bipartisan, $1 trillion Senate infrastructure bill stretches across 2,702 pages. Somewhere in there is a mention of requiring U.S. regulators to mandate technology that would keep intoxicated drivers from starting vehicles, according to Reuters.
The U.S. Department of Transportation would study the possibility of a system that could detect alcohol in a driver. The department would have three years to analyze and present a final set of rules. Following this step, automakers would have two years to implement it.
If regulators cannot finalize new safety rules in 10 years, the department is required to report to Congress.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2019, 28% of passenger vehicle driver deaths involved a blood-alcohol concentration of greater than or equal to .08%. Total fatalities in 2019 involving at least one driver with a BAC greater than or equal to .08% exceeded 10,000.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that in 2010, the U.S. spent approximately $52 billion in economic costs on alcohol-involved crashes; $44 billion came from crashes with the highest BAC greater than or equal to .08%.
The questions, however, are what technology will be used and will it be accurate? In 2019, lawmakers told Reuters that options included a steering wheel or engine-start button detecting blood-alcohol level through touch.
Another option would be sensors monitoring a driver’s breath or eye movements. The Senate bill says the technology must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”
Other automotive-related provisions in the bill, per Bloomberg, include automatic emergency braking, crash avoidance systems and a reminder of children left in the back seat.