In a report that flew under the radar late last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for drunk driving detection systems to be installed in every new car.
After an impaired driver killed nine people – including seven children – in a tragic New Year’s Day car crash in California, the NTSB recommended “all new vehicles be equipped with passive vehicle-integrated alcohol impairment detection systems, advanced driver monitoring systems, or a combination thereof; the systems must be capable of preventing or limiting vehicle operation if driver impairment by alcohol is detected.”
The NTSB said drunk driving is the leading cause of highway crashes involving injury, and in 2020, about one in three traffic deaths involved a drunk driver. The board also noted that “impaired driving crashes” are increasing.
“Because people who are impaired by alcohol often have compromised judgment and indulge in increased risk-taking, interventions are needed that do not require decision-making by impaired drivers,” NTSB said. “Vehicle-integrated passive alcohol detection technologies that prevent or limit impaired drivers from operating their vehicles have significant lifesaving potential; however, development of the technologies has been slow, and additional action is needed to accelerate progress in implementing these technologies.”
The NTSB’s current “most wanted list” of transportation safety improvements says “impaired driving is 100% preventable” and insists the .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) standard is too high for safe driving.
States must lower the BAC limit to .05, NTSB said, adding that only Utah has taken such action so far.
“Technology could’ve prevented this heartbreaking crash — just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the U.S. annually,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now, to save lives.”