MADD presidents: DUI prevention tech should be automakers' focus

The national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been calling for automakers to devote more research and development in the effort to create drunk driver prevention systems. West Virginia residents are probably aware that DUI is a major cause of auto accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2017, drunk driving crashes led to 11,000 deaths and over 200,000 injuries. DUI is behind 29% of all roadway fatalities.

Yet there are some who are already developing systems to address this trend. Volvo announced a system that can detect alcohol intoxication in a driver based on cameras and sensors. One group has been working for over a decade on a program it calls the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. Using breath- and touch-based systems, it can tell when a driver's blood alcohol content is over .08 and render the vehicle inoperable in response to it.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is in support of such systems, saying that they could, on average, save 7,000 lives every year once they are fully implemented. While touch-based systems may not become widely available until much later, breath-based systems may start to be integrated into fleets by the end of 2020. These prevention systems, then, can benefit drivers even while everyone is waiting for self-driving cars.

It should be kept in mind that drunk driving is negligent driving and that drunk drivers who cause others to incur a personal injury may face not only criminal charges but also an insurance claim. Since insurance companies can be aggressive in denying claims, those who wish to file one might want a lawyer by their side, especially for negotiations. In West Virginia, the statute of limitations is two years after the accident.

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