NTSB Recommends Alcohol-Monitoring Technology in New Cars

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has enlisted its sister agency to curb drunk driving incidents by implementing new regulations regarding blood alcohol monitoring systems in vehicles. Apparently, the NTSB has recommended the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should require all new vehicles sold in the US to be outfitted with these systems.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy advises that technology “can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the US annually. We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now to save lives.”

This announcement comes after the National Transportation Safety Board completed the investigation of an extremely horrid highway collision last year. The drunk driving—and high speed—incident resulted in the death of seven children and two adults. While this incident is particular gruesome in detail—both physically and statistically—it is only a small part of a much more difficult picture. According to NHTSA statistics, almost 43,000 people died on US roads in 2021. This is the highest measure in 16 years.

For reference, NHTSA data indicates more than 230,000 people have died from drunk-driving incidents in 22 years.

All this in mind, the NTSB recommendation suggests that all new cars to be sold in the United States should include a passive blood alcohol detection system that can determine if the driver is intoxicated. The recommendation notes that this system could be integrated with existing advanced driver monitoring technologies in order to prevent accidents. In a similar—but separate—presentation, the NTSB has also recommended that related technology could also prevent speed-related collisions.

Of course, the NTSB does not have any authority to enforce or to regulate any of the safety measures they recommend to the NHTSA. The NTSB has been advising on and encouraging the development and implementation of alcohol-monitoring technologies in vehicles for at least the last ten years. Their efforts have been largely opposed by restaurant and beverage trade groups who argue that these measures would complicate dining experiences where folks might have one or two drinks with a meal. At the same time, these restaurant and beverage groups have shown support for monitoring devices for repeat DUI offenders.