America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown members of Congress the latest advances it has made in the quest for anti drunk-driving technology in the car. Working in partnership with an industry consortium, the NHTSA unveiled a test-car designed to help it fine-tune driver interactions with potentially life-saving anti drunk-driving innovations.

In its efforts to cut down on the roughly 10,000 people killed in American alcohol-related accidents annually, the consortium's catchily-named Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety program has been fine-tuning systems designed to prevent a car from moving off if the driver is over the 0.08 BAC limit that stands in most US states.

The DADSS system takes advantage of a touch-free breathylyzer, which can detect alcohol while drivers breathe normally. The breath sensor could be mounted on the steering column or the driver's door, and uses an infrared sensor to measure the number of alcohol molecules in a driver's breath. The system also uses a touch-based sensor to measure alcohol under the skin's surface, providing another line of defense against drunken drivers hitting the road.

While the system might be in its early stages at the moment, a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that it could save 7,000 lives every year by preventing drivers' over the legal limit from getting onto the roads. According to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, "there is still a great deal of work to do" on the system.

“DADSS has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths,” Rosekind said.

The consortium working on the project is aiming to complete the necessary research to turn its tests into a reality, where the system will be available alongside safety features like lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking.

Source: NHTSA