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Virginia testing in-car drunk driving prevention tech, could serve as national model

The infrastructure bill Congress passed last month requires drunk driving prevention technology in vehicles by 2026.

Published: December 13, 2021 4:30pm

Updated: December 19, 2021 11:05pm

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is working with the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) on testing drunk driving prevention technology, which could serve as a national model.

The public-private partnership is starting its testing of the system in trucks.

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that Congress passed last month requires drunk and impaired driving prevention technology as standard technology in vehicles as early as 2026. President Biden has signed the bill into law.

DADSS also works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Under the Virginia partnership, the system that's being installed and tested in Schneider trucks would prevent the vehicle from moving if the driver's blood alcohol level is above the legal limit.

"You as the driver would just simply get in the car, in this instance the truck, give a puff of air toward the sensor inlet, like you're blowing a candle," said ACTS President and CEO Rob Strassburger. "And that mere act, the sensor withdrawing your breath plume, would be able ... [to] determine whether you have alcohol in your system."

Schneider is now "the first truckload carrier to conduct a trial deployment of the lifesaving DADSS technology," and the collaboration "will collect data on hundreds of thousands of real-world operating miles."

Schneider Vice President of Safety, Driver Training and Compliance Tom DiSalvi said the company's "professional drivers will embrace this technology because, just as with previous safety enhancements, they will be part of a solution that will make our highways safer."

The "breath system being developed by Senseair, and their tier one auto supplier, Autoliv Development, is designed to unobtrusively analyze alcohol in the driver's breath," according to the DADSS website. "Drivers will simply be able to enter the vehicle and breathe as they normally would."

DADSS is also currently working on developing a touch drunk driving prevention system that "uses spectroscopy to measure alcohol in the driver's tissue." DADSS said touch technology would broaden the options "for an integrated system that can reliably prevent drunk driving while remaining invisible to any driver under the legal limit."

The DADSS website lists many major auto manufacturers that are connected with the organization's research program including BMW, Honda, Ford, Mercedes and Toyota.

Intoxalock is another company that currently manufactures portable drunk driving prevention technology. The company's official website says it's the "leading provider of ignition interlocks." 

According to Open Secrets, Intoxalock spent $220,000 on federal lobbying in 2020.

Just the News reached out to DADSS seeking more information about the work they are doing in connection with the infrastructure law but did not a receive a response before publication. 

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