American roads may soon be filled with cars that can tell when someone is trying to drive drunk. Such cars would come equipped with a breathalyzer (or some other system) that would stop someone from starting the car if they appear to be impaired.
Technology that prevents people from driving drunk has been in development for several years. However, the commercial impetus for such solutions will increase following the passage of a new infrastructure bill that sets aside $555 billion for roads and other transit projects. It also addresses drunk driving with a provision that will force auto manufacturers to introduce new technology solutions that can monitor drivers for signs of impairment.
The bill will not have an immediate impact, insofar as it gives the US Department of Transportation three years to create new technology standards, and gives automakers another two years to comply with those standards. Even so, the bill should create more urgency for driving safety projects, and help bring biometric monitoring solutions to market more quickly. For example, Nissan has developed a concept car that would be able to detect the smell of alcohol, while the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety is planning to release an open-source alcohol detection system for commercial vehicles before the end of the year.
As it stands, several car manufacturers have already released driver assist systems that use in-car cameras to watch for signs of drowsiness or distracted driving. The proposed tech would take that one step further with a biometric breathalyzer component.
Other advancements could supplement that with other biometric sensors to provide further insights into driver health and improve on-road safety. Most notably, a blood sugar monitor could alert a diabetic driver about low blood sugar before they lose consciousness, while a heart rate monitor could notify a hospital and warn a driver in the case of a heart attack.
Of course, cars with biometric health trackers would raise considerable data privacy concerns, and would need to be designed in accordance with HIPPA policies. It could also create more problems for drivers if health metrics increase people’s insurance premiums. Even so, the new law would seem to indicate that alcohol and health monitoring systems will be appearing in commercial vehicles sooner rather than later.
Source: The Next Web
August 10, 2021 – by Eric Weiss