Imagine a world where drunk drivers couldn't start their cars and drive away.  That's the task that has been put in front of automakers before 2026.

The new infrastructure bill that is making its way to President Biden's desk has a lot of stuff in it.  At $1 trillion it's an expensive bill for sure.  But once it is signed into law, will help to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public works systems, boost broadband internet, and more.

Also included is legislation that requires automakers to include monitoring systems for all new vehicles in order to stop drunk drivers.  According to the NHTSA, around one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers.  Around 10,000 people die from drunk driving accidents every year.  Heavy fines and jail time doesn't stop people from jumping behind the wheel after they've had too many drinks.  So what will stop them?

As it is right now, there is technology that will require certain convicted drunken drivers to use a breathalyzer device that is connected to the vehicle.  If their BAL is too high, the vehicle will then be disabled.

If you're starting to think, "I'm gonna have to blow into a tube every time I want to drive my car?!?"

No....not necessarily.  That's not what the bill says.  The bill says that the new cars would have to be "equipped with advanced drunk driving prevention technology. Advanced drunk driving prevention technology means a passive system that (1) monitors a driver's performance to identify impairment of a driver, (2) passively detects a blood alcohol level equal to and exceeding .08 blood alcohol content, or (3) detects impairment and prevents or limits vehicle operation."

As it is right now, certain automakers like General Motors, BMW and Nissan have technology that can use infrared cameras that essentially monitor driver attentiveness too.  It will even determine if a driver is drowsy and will pull the car over safely for them.

When will this technology start coming to New York?  The goal is to have the technology in all new cars by 2026.  But keep in mind, that doesn't mean that all the other cars on the road will magically disappear at that time.  So it will be years before all the cars are equipped with them.


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