Law enforcement and legislatures have done their best to eliminate or at least discourage driving under the influence. The laws have become increasingly severe, with legal limits reduced and penalties increased. Nevertheless, there is still a discouragingly large number of drivers willing to put lives (theirs and others) at risk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one-third of traffic fatalities involve people driving under the influence. This amounts to about 10,000 deaths annually in recent years, but the recent increase of 20,000 deaths in the first half of 2021 for the highest total in 15 years will likely increase the number.
Congress takes action
Rather than instituting new and more stringent laws, Congress is turning to technology in a new mandate. Folded into the new infrastructure bill is 17 billion earmarked for road safety programs. Along with the usual updates of lighting, road design, and safety structures, there is money for research into technology for the car to monitor if the driver is too impaired to operate their vehicle. With the Transportation Department taking the lead, the current timetable for installing this tech in new vehicles is 2026 at the earliest.
More than a breathalyzer
Rather than installing a breathalyzer, the yet-to-be-developed technology will likely be passive – the car will monitor the driver’s behavior. It will be similar to current technology that uses infrared cameras to monitor if the driver is tired, loses consciousness or takes their eyes off the road for too long. Theoretically, the vehicle could first warn the driver, but the onboard computer with self-driving software can then turn on the flashers and pull to the side of the road.
This future is still off in the distance. Until then, crash victims and their families will still need to hold reckless and intoxicated drivers accountable for their actions by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Whether settling before going to court or winning litigation, the attorneys at Goldstein, Ballen, O’Rourke & Wildstein, P.C. can provide experienced guidance. Call us at 973-473-1113 to schedule your free consultation.