Top federal transportation officials got a first look at new drunk-driving prevention technology that could someday be part of equipment in new passenger vehicles.
The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, known as DADSS technology, is under development as part of a five-year, $10 million collaborative research effort by automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The fully developed tool would detect a driver's blood alcohol content either through a breath- or touch-based system and prevent the vehicle from starting if the content was at or above the legal intoxication limit.
"The technology we are seeing here today could quite simply signal a new frontier in the fight against drunk driving," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.
He joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and representatives of the auto industry and Mothers Against Drunk Driving for a demonstration of the technology Jan. 28 at the QinetiQ North America's Technology Solutions Group lab in Waltham, Mass.
The project will remain in development for the next two years. Although it's too early to say when the technology might be available for general use, automakers have said they could begin integrating it into vehicles in eight to 10 years.
It's difficult to say how such a system could impact car insurance rates. However, safety features that reduce accidents generally help to reduce costs for insurance companies, which leads to lower premiums for consumers.