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Agency Has High Hopes To Stop Drunk Drivers With New Device

Most people understand that drunk driving is never a good idea and can endanger lives. In fact, it claims the lives of about 10,000 people throughout the United States every year. Under Oklahoma law, drivers can face stiff criminal penalties and civil lawsuits for medical expenses and other damages if they are responsible for a drunk driving accident. Despite that, far too many people still take the risk and get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. However, a new piece of technology is being developed that aims to significantly reduce the number of drunk driving accidents in the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, new technology would prevent a car from starting if sensors in the vehicle detected that the driver's blood-alcohol content exceeded the legal limit, which is 0.08 percent in Oklahoma. Currently, some drivers have ignition interlock devices, which require the driver to blow into a tube before their vehicle will start. If the driver's blood-alcohol content is more than 0.08 percent, the vehicle will not start. Typically, only people who have convictions for drunk driving offenses have to use these devices.

Unlike the current devices, the new technology would not require the driver to blow into anything. Instead, either breath or touch sensors would be able to detect the driver's blood alcohol content, and either allow or prevent the car's ignition. Because it wouldn't require a clunky blowing device, federal officials believe that this new innovation could become mainstream and even standard in every automobile.

The cost to manufacture and install the sensors in new cars is expected to be between $150 and $200 per vehicle. The NHTSA is pushing to get this technology fully functional in the next five to eight years. They expect consumer demand for it to be high, regardless of whether federal regulations require it in new vehicles.

Although the new blood-alcohol ignition device could potentially be a remarkable step forward for safety, nobody can guarantee that it will come to fruition. In the meantime, anyone who is harmed by a drunk driver may want to hold that driver accountable and pursue compensation through legal action.

Source: Washington Post, "New technology could put an end to drunken driving, officials say," Ashley Halsey III, June 4, 2015