The Senate recently approved a highway bill that will provide $24 million over two years to study a Transportation Department initiative to put alcohol detectors in all new cars this decade. The technology would prevent cars from starting if drivers are legally drunk, even if they do not have a DUI record.
The United States is not the first country to consider such technology. In France, Breathalyzer systems are already required in new cars.
Supportive carmakers, anticipating a similar mandate in the U.S., have started brainstorming systems such as fingertip sensors on steeling wheels or start buttons.
Not surprisingly, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other anti-alcohol groups have backed the bill. However, the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which represents thousands of restaurants, has come out against it, claiming that the technology often gives false readings. The ABI argues that nearly 4,000 sober drivers a day will be unable to start their cars, potentially scaring them from dining out.
In response to critics, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., explains that installation of Breathalyzer systems is years away. The present goal is to identify the easiest and most accurate technology. He added that the bill’s aim is not to discourage people from drinking responsibly at dinner, but to curb drunk driving, which results in thousands of traffic fatalities each year.
Do you think Breathalyzers systems should be required in all new cars?