MADD Canada says new technology could effectively end drunk driving as we know it.
The technology called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS for short, works in two ways: a breath based system or a touch-based system.
The breath-based system detects the drivers breath within seconds of entering the vehicle and determines if their blood-alcohol level is suitable for driving. The touch-based technology could be installed in the push button ignition and can detect ethanol levels in the finger of the driver.
“It’s not that it doesn’t start – but if it does start and it’s determined that your blood-alcohol is too high for the legal limit, then it goes into what’s called ‘limp mode,'” MADD CEO Andrew Murie told Vancity Buzz.
“The horn starts blaring, the lights are all flashing and it can’t drive any faster than 20 kilometres per hour.”
While the car can be moved, Murie said it’s an attention grabber for law enforcement. He said disabling the car completely is risky for people who could potentially be stranded.
“What needs to be developed is the whole policy framework behind this, because, quite frankly, there are some safety issues if the vehicle doesn’t start,” he said.
“In my opinion, a technology that doesn’t start is not going to be allowed once you get into the public policy debate.”
The technology isn’t without its challenges, however.
“The challenge is, once the technology is available and working, is how quickly can we get it in all vehicles and what mechanisms can we use,” said Murie.
At that point, he said, it will effectively end drunk driving, but that could be as far down the line as 14 to 20 years.
The technology will start to be implemented in Canadian vehicles as early as next year as an additional safety option, much like automatic braking and lane departure warning. There’s no word yet on which makes and models will include the feature in their vehicles.
Watch the video below for a more in-depth look at how the technology may operate (note: this video was designed for the United States. The Canadian technology will likely not completely disable the vehicle):