back to article US accident investigators want alcohol breathalyzers in all new vehicles

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash investigation has concluded with potentially wide-reaching implications for the auto industry, as the panel is recommending all new vehicles be equipped with technology that stops the engine if a drunk driver is at the wheel. The NTSB cited the severe effects alcohol and …

  1. Andy Non

    Sounds like it could be

    fraught with accuracy issues. It really does need to detect the alcohol on the exhaled breath of the driver as stated in the article rather than the atmosphere in the car. Especially if you are the sober designated driver taking a car full of heavily intoxicated drunks home with all the windows closed in Winter. Regarding touch testing, that presupposes no driving gloves. The article made no mention of drug driving, which I gather is increasingly common.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      >The article made no mention of drug driving, which I gather is increasingly common.

      So long as we are only targeting evil drugs like weed and not housewives on Prozac or Americans who can't afford insulin and are on the verge of a coma I think we can all get behind this.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Sounds like it could be

        I'm not a sniveling miserable coward so I'll just document my experience, psychedelics can be a serious issue but are very hard to detect, smoking cannabis can make driving entertaining but not much, it's easy to learn to work around it - I did both of those at college for a long time.

        Drinking is a problem - my dad taught me when he was teaching me to drive ... we stopped at a pub and he ordered us a pint each, then looked at his watch and said, "We have to get home because your mother is getting lunch ready", so I downed my pint and learned the issues of being drunk while driving back home.

        I learned how to drive drunk that day but it showed me that it has some serious effects although I was able to avoid going all the way into the ditch because dad grabbed the wheel. I passed my driving test a week later and the result was that ever since then I never drink alcohol if I'm going to be driving. I've only ever had two car accidents - one guy ran a red light and another turned across the road in front of me ... I was able to react fast enough that nobody was hurt.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like it could be

          I fully agree and am kind of an expert in this field. To anyone horrified, most of this occurred in a field only risking rabbits*.

          Most dangerous was acid. My mate said, "I don't know how you are doing this!" which alarmed me because I thought he was doing it.

          2nd most dangerous was ecstasy. Everything is fine and then another wave hits and cars don't handle waves well.

          3rd most dangerous was cannabis, the combination of paranoia and sleepiness are just not conducive to motorways.

          Least dangerous was alcohol. I have a high alcohol tolerance though, two drinks under as in it takes me two drinks to be sober.

          In the seventies I refused to get into my dad's car after a wedding reception because he'd been drinking. Everyone drove drunk then. In the nineties I bought a breathalyser that told me I was perfectly sober when I patently was not, I felt ripped off but kept it in case of future legal action.

          I've had a lot of bad traffic accidents, legendary bad traffic accidents, all of them stone cold sober, all my fault. The one that terrified me into slow, sensible driving was not my fault at all. The woman in front of me veered into oncoming traffic and down a hill. Cars and lorries piling into each other behind me and in front of me, mayhem. My car in the middle untouched, the police praised me for my driving and I should have got that in writing.

          When my dad was teaching me to drive he told me to ignore other drivers and assume they were all trying to kill me, as long as I didn't hit the car in front of me because that would affect his insurance.

          *no rabbits were harmed in these experiments.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sounds like it could be

            Least dangerous was alcohol. I have a high alcohol tolerance though, two drinks under as in it takes me two drinks to be sober.

            Bollocks.

            1. Danny 2 Silver badge

              Re: Sounds like it could be

              I assure you that is true for me, I guess everyone is different. I can't take cocaine for example, even a wee bit makes me pass out and piss myself which has ruined a few parties. I thought folk were malicious but apparently in a small number of folk it mixes with blood alcohol to create a potentially fatal drug. It bemuses me that other folk get violent or sleepy on alcohol.

              If it worries you I don't drive drunk, except one time when a diabetic pal was dying on new years day, and I consider drunk/drug driving to be murder.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Sounds like it could be

              "Least dangerous was alcohol. I have a high alcohol tolerance though, two drinks under as in it takes me two drinks to be sober."

              Let me guess, your stage name is Johnny Fever and you're a DJ at WKRP in Cincinnati.

          2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: Sounds like it could be

            With many years of driving friends to see performers as varied as Captain Beefheart, the Pink Floyd, and Bob Marley and then driving back well stoned I think that the caution that it created has helped my driving ever since. This is just a guess but looking at how I drive these days and remembering the fear while puffing I suspect it created a permanent caution. I'll update a Brendan Behan quote, "One puff is too many for me and a thousand not enough."

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Sounds like it could be

            "When my dad was teaching me to drive he told me to ignore other drivers and assume they were all trying to kill me, as long as I didn't hit the car in front of me because that would affect his insurance."

            I was given very similar advice from my dad. The upshot that was no matter whose fault the accident was, broken and in massive pain isn't a great experience. Keep an eye out at all times and always keep in mind that many of those other people on the road don't have a license, insurance or only passed their test by one point.

            It's just like the easiest way to never lose a fight is not to get in one if you can possibly avoid it. A guy I worked with taught me that one and he's been practicing karate for most of his life and was a member of a very prestigious dojo. His wife sent him to camp every year where tiny Japanese masters would kick his ass without breaking a sweat. At 6'5" and a devotee of going to the gym, he wasn't very small and his wife thought the education in humility was a good thing.

      2. kiwimuso
        Facepalm

        Re: Sounds like it could be

        "adding that one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol and that impaired driving crashes have increased in the past few years."

        So one third of fatal road accidents have alcohol involved.

        Similar figures, I believe, are quoted in most countries, but I think I would be more worried about the two thirds which did NOT involve alcohol.

        What caused them? Bad driving? Seems to me that they could fix 2/3 of road fatalities if they addressed that first.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Regarding touch testing, that presupposes no driving gloves.

      What's the betting that it doesn't work with a certain skin tone ?

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Regarding touch testing, that presupposes no driving gloves.

        And strip searching will be involved.

    3. Zarno

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      Wonder if methanol fumes will trip it up?

      If I clean the windscreen a bit zealous with the demist setting pulling air in, I can get a whiff of it in the cabin.

      1. Screwed

        Re: Sounds like it could be

        Or isopropanol also present in many screenwash mixes.

        I suspect there could be a number of such substances which could cause a false positive.

        Including petrol which could contain up to 10% ethanol...

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like it could be

          If it measures it on your skin... well... hands, face, space.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sounds like it could be

          Ethanol-based hand sanitizer, for instance?

    4. Withdrawn

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      I'm betting this will be ready for roll-out by the time it's obsoleted by fully autonomous vehicles. Of course, the subsidies for the development of this technology will still be forthcoming.

    5. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      The article made no mention of drug driving, which I gather is increasingly common.

      So you think alcohol isn't a drug??

      It's a hard one, killing scores of people everyday worldwide.

      == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like it could be

        So you think alcohol isn't a drug??

        As my dad used to say (industrial pharmacist) - anything that causes a physiological state change can (technically) be labelled as a drug..

        Of course, we exclude food generally from the list of drugs but under some circumstances (late night, heavy meal) food can be a cause of traffic accidents.

        Prescription drugs can also cause accidents - I was (for a while) prescribed amyltriptalene as a low-dose migrane preventative. It made me very, very, very sleepy - to the extent that I was really unsafe to drive for about 8 hours after the dose kicked in. I stopped it pretty quickly.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      "The article made no mention of drug driving, which I gather is increasingly common."

      The laws are written as "driving while intoxicated" so it can be cough medicine, a prescription drug or anything else. In the US there is also "driving while impaired" which is a lower standard and can include fatigue. It's all a problem and just detecting alcohol is going to be an expensive bit of kit that has to be maintained and likely tested/calibrated from time to time at a cost.

    7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like it could be

      fraught with accuracy issues

      Especially if the utterly sober driver has recently applied aftershave/cologne/perfume/mouthwash - most of which use alcohol as a base..

      (Well - maybe not mouthwash - unless you use a nice whisky to clear away the whisky breath from last night..)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Test FAIL, and not the one you are thinking of

    The driver isn't the one in the hotseat here. The hardware is. They have been failing to build a working system that can stand on it's merits for about 15 years, and even the courts won't uses them for mandated drunk/drink driving cases. People can defeat the more robust blow in the tube sensors after 15 min of trolling google. These are less accurate and less reliable.

    This just another case of a company which spend R&D money on a "solution" no one wanted to buy trying to get the government to mandate it. People will disable them until they are wired so deep into the vehicle it disables them, then people will realize the false positive, false negative, and hardware failure rates mean their car won't start for no good reason when they need to get to work, or their ride share shuts down on freeway because it is a warm day and the rider used the complementary hand sanitizer.

    This is an attempt to foist yet more junk into already expensive cars, that will make them less reliable and still fail to stop out of control alcoholics. I'd have had less opposition if this was a voluntary option that protective parents can buy, or people in recovery can opt into for extra support. I'd even see a narrower case for purely commercial vehicles, where the operator is on the clock and has been trained ho to handle a failure or a false positive. But that isn't a large enough market for management to make a fat bonus on, so they are going to try to foist this on everyone.

    A least there is finally something for the convoys of angry truck people to strike up a valid protest over. Hope these guys like diesel exhaust, cause they are gonna roll some coal.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Test FAIL, and not the one you are thinking of

      There is also the issue that there is no general correlation between blood alcohol level and breath testing, for a whole lot of reasons including the lack of specificity of the sensors. The sensors will interpret all organic molecules, such as ketones, the same as ethanol. They also will interpret organic molecules found in cleaning products and personal care products, like other alcohols, propanols and the like, the same as ethanol.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Test FAIL, and not the one you are thinking of

      "People can defeat the more robust blow in the tube sensors after 15 min of trolling google."

      Or mojeek. It will probably be as easy as soldering a resistor across a couple of points so the circuit never detects anything other than null. It many also be a dip switch or a pair of test points that puts the sensor in a test mode.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perfect. More stuff that can fail in a mode that will render your car undrivable. As someone living in a part of the world where a dead car can mean dead (or severely frostbitten) occupants under worst-case scenarios, I don't like it.

    OTOH, $dayjob involves automotive electronics, so bring on the mandatory add-ons, I guess.

    (Not trying to argue that getting behind the wheel while inebriated is NBD, just not agreeing worth this approach).

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Yep, false positives when the technology can never really be 100% but enough to keep drunks off the road and save lives. Maybe they should allow driver override. Perhaps a bit complicated process to confuse the genuinely drunk.

      But doing so triggers a call to the local constabulary and the necessity of presenting oneself to be conventionally tested within a very short time. The touch bit helpful in ruling out impersonators.

      Personally I'd spend the money in re-introducing traffic police instead.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Since modern cars have builtin touch screens and complex computers - what about solving a series of complex maths problems before you are allowed to start the car?

        That way you prevent both drunks and idiots - which together must be a large percentage of accidents.

        Of course it might not prevent drunk mathematicians...

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          "Of course it might not prevent drunk mathematicians..."

          Never drink and derive.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Ian Moffatt 1

          I could never drive then. Will never be able to solve complex maths problems, even after a year of abstinence, and I dare say there are others like me.

          Autonomous vehicles are the answer. They can't come quick enough. If you'll pardon the expression ;)

        3. Vir_Floridanus

          This is a problem that ales me. while technology may not solve the drinking problem, it’s worth a shot.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            So you're a glass-half-full type.

            -A.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Personally I'd spend the money in re-introducing traffic police instead."

        Now if we could just convince the "defund the police" idiots.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Perhaps a bit complicated process to confuse the genuinely drunk

        There are high-function drunks that can operate in a surprisingly sober manner even when multiple levels over the legal limit..

        Not common, but common enough to mean that any sobriety test would be pointless.

  4. redpawn

    Improvement

    Have the car issue a citation and suggest a manufacturer owned rehab facility.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Regarding touch testing

    Can i suggest a simpler system?

    You have to keep both hands on the wheel, with a maximum of 5seconds for a gear change or a button push?

    So people have to at least face forward instead of being busy with the phone, drinking coffee, doing make-up, reloading or reaching into the back seat to smack a child

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Regarding touch testing

      And if you only have one hand? Or one hand available due holding a coffee cup or something else?

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        or you drive in the summer with open windows and the hand coolly out of said open window ?

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        If you're a one-handed driver, you cannot safely drive a vehicle equipped with a steering wheel as its only steering control. If you are one-handed, you may (depending on the assistive technology installed in your vehicle) be able to safely drive a motor vehicle.

        Keep your hand on the tiller!

        1. MarkTriumphant

          Re: Regarding touch testing

          Of course you can - I know of at least one stroke victim who has a door-knob type of addition to the steering wheel, specifically so that it can be easily controlled with one hand.

          1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Steering-Wheel Knobs

            Those were outlawed here as safety hazards.

            From Wikipedia: The device is often called a "suicide knob" because of being notoriously useless for controlling the wheel during an emergency.[5] It is also called a "knuckle buster" because of the disadvantage posed by the knob when letting go of the steering wheel after going around a corner, the wheel spins rapidly and the knob can hit the user's knuckle, forearm, or elbow. If the driver is wearing a long-sleeved shirt, the protruding accessory on the rim of the steering wheel can also become caught in the sleeve's open cut by the button. Other names include "granny knob" "necker's knob" and "wheel spinner."

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Steering-Wheel Knobs

              "The device is often called a "suicide knob" because of being notoriously useless for controlling the wheel during an emergency."

              We called it a Brody knob (sp?) as it helped if you wanted to throw the car into a four wheel drift.

              Any appliance used to assist a handicapped person is exempt from laws banning them if it has been approved as a assistance feature.

          2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Steering-Wheel Knobs - Part II

            D'oh! The dangers of steering wheel knobs do not manifest if they are used on vehicles which have power steering, as there's no "kick-back". So, I'd say power-steering + granny knob == okay for a one-armed person..

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Regarding touch testing

            I know of at least one stroke victim who has a door-knob type of addition to the steering wheel

            As do I (cos arthritis) - I generally don't use it about about 20mph because I'm old-fashioned enough to want to have both hands on the wheel.

            For low speed manoeuvring it's great - means my left (more painful) hand and shoulder don't have to be involved.

      3. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        And if you only have one hand? Or one hand available due holding a coffee cup or something else?

        Ahh, OK, I get it. My sarcasm detector almost failed there for a second.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        Both hands? How am I supposed to be able to pick my nose?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Regarding touch testing

          Just use the hand not scratching your balls!

    2. Grogan

      Re: Regarding touch testing

      Typical knee jerk, nannying bullshit that dumbs everyone else down to your level. There is no law that says you have to have both hands on the wheel. I don't at all times, even when I'm not doing anything with the other hand. If you're not competent, by all means restrict your own behaviour.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        "There is no law that says you have to have both hands on the wheel."

        The problem is emergencies. I was riding in an auto which was slammed into by another motorist running a red light. The driver of the vehicle I was in had both hands on the wheel, saw it coming, and frantically cranked the steering wheel so our car turned sharply and we were hit at only a glancing angle.

        You can't do that with just one hand on the steering wheel, and human reaction times being what they are, you won't get your other hand up onto the steering wheel in time to take meaningful evasive action.

        (The driver who ran the red light was drunk, and relatively uninjured. His passenger was not wearing her seat belt, and died.)

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Regarding touch testing

          we were hit at only a glancing angle.

          You can't do that with just one hand on the steering wheel

          Wrong - you can if you have a steering knob (properly) attached - I can spin the steering wheel a good deal faster using mine than I could with two hands - especially using the Highway Code approved hand shuffle.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Regarding touch testing

        there is a law suggesting you pay attention to the road.

        If the risk of drunk drivers is so high as to require onboard chemical detectors might I suggest that the risk from fscking stupid distracted drivers is higher ?

        Perhaps an eye tracker that at least requires you to be looking vaguely where you're going ?

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    I can see better and all the new cars are gone

    I acquired an unwanted box of Solimo Ethyl Rubbing Alcohol that was meant for COVID disinfecting but it reeks from low purity. I use it for cleaning appliances and put a squirt in the water for my windshield wiper tank. I'll keep an eye out for cars stalling after I wash away the bugs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not again...

    Its like those stupid self bucking seat belts that were common in the USA for a while.

    'Merkins and personal responsibility rarely occupy the same space.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Not again...

      They just want to make things idiot proof.

      Unfortunately some countries excel at making better idiots

      1. ChoHag Bronze badge

        Re: Not again...

        Funnily enough, they're the ones that keep idiot-proofing things.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not again...

          From an outsiders perspective it does appear that the vast blue run cities and the overcharging universities are idiot breeding grounds.

          If presented with a food item in its unmolested and unprocessed form they would end up either sobbing in the corner or trying to burn the place down.

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Not again...

            Meanwhile down in rural red areas, many a folks last words have been

            "hey y'all, watch this"

            Idiots are everywhere.......

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Not again...

              ""hey y'all, watch this""

              That's a misquote of the phrase "hold my beer".

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not again...

            My SO, having been to culinary school, has often said that if the FDA had existed from the very beginning, we'd be missing an awful lot of food. Cheese, pickles, bread, alcohol - all things that require taking food items, leaving them in the "danger zone" for a substantial period of time, and then seeing what they're like afterward.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not again...

              And without the FDA food pyramid there might not be quite so many fatties in the USA.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not again...

        Idiots try to make things foolproof. Nothing is foolproof, and an attempt by fools and idiots to make something useful foolproof OR idiot proof is most likely result in it becoming useless in short order.

        Won't stop them from trying though.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Not again...

          I blame health and safety - in the old days simple evolution took care of these idiots before their genes could be passed on.

          Now the warning labels prevent sufficient bleach in the gene pool

          1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            Re: Not again...

            evolution took care of these idiots before their genes could be passed on

            Evidently, this did not happen. My best guess is: contraceptive isn't foolproof either.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Not again...

              "My best guess is: contraceptive isn't foolproof either."

              The use of which is far over the heads of said fools.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not again...

            "Now the warning labels prevent sufficient bleach in the gene pool"

            they simply tell the idiot why the accident happened...

            Now please do not try to put your tie/hand/hair/baby through the shredder

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not again...

            Are you an idiot if a drunk driver runs into you? Is that how it works? When someone texting at the wheel runs into someone at cruising speed, and doesn't even attempt evasive action, because, wha? , Darwinism doesn't remove the idiot from the gene pool. It could happen to you

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Not again...

        "Unfortunately some countries excel at making better idiots"

        They do make worse drivers as they lower the racist driving test standards. What about the driving test is so racist I have never been able to figure out, but I'm not a minority (actually, yes I am now in my area), so I suppose it will be too hard for me to see.

    2. Chz

      Re: Not again...

      The self-buckling belts were a sop to the car manufacturers. They didn't want the expense of fitting an airbag to every model of car, so the NHTSA gave them the option of self-buckling seatbelts *or* airbags, on the basis that a large %age of Americans didn't even bother with safety belts and this would increase their safety just as much.

      So GM, Ford and Chrysler duly fitted their cheaper models of car with these things. And people HATED them. Passionately. And that's why every model of car in the States has airbags now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not again...

        And then they had the neck snappingly huge airbags that were designed to catch you while not wearing a seatbelt.

        And they wondered why everyone bought Japanese cars.... Detroit iron was getting to be a joke.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not again...

      "'Merkins and personal responsibility rarely occupy the same space."

      That's part of it. The rest is "Gummint ain't telling ME what to do...muh FREEDOM, damn commie Feds!!"

  8. gecho

    Also

    Proof of registration / insurance detection. Proof of authorized operator. Driver attentiveness monitoring.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Also

      "Proof of registration / insurance detection."

      With automatic license plate readers, those two are detected right off. Authorized operator? If I lend my car to a friend, do I need to notify some government database? As far as attentiveness goes, I've known many parents that should have disciplined their children much better so they didn't need to be yelled at so constantly while in the car. I know if my dad had to say "knock it off" more than once on a trip, my sister and I would be seriously regretting our actions. My dad knew about kids on long trips so we were talked to and given a good supply of things to keep us occupied. Anybody shown to have been in or caused an accident while on their phone/texting should be treated the same as somebody arrested for intoxicated driving. I'm really tempted to suggest the same for parents with unruly kids.

  9. Paul Herber Silver badge
    Pint

    one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

    'one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol '

    which means that two out of three accidents were caused by sober drivers! We need a minimum intake requirement. Hic. Need a troll icon as well.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

      There is one....

    2. Falmari Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

      @Paul Herber"'one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol '

      which means that two out of three accidents were caused by sober drivers! "

      Probably more, note the term involve alcohol which is not the same as caused by alcohol. Involve alcohol means at least 1 of the drivers was recorded to be over the legal limit. It does not mean the accident was necessarily caused by a driver over the limit or that alcohol was even a contributing factor.

      I am not condoning drink driving, just pointing out that when ever stats like these be it speed or alcohol, etc are trotted out, they use the term involve to include all accidents where speed or alcohol, etc have been recorded rather than just the accidents where they were a contributing cause.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

        Or to pick another example: How many people died of the unspecified virus of unknown origin, vs how many people died with it?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

          >one in three traffic fatalities on US roads

          But 100% of fatalities involve roads. Perhaps if everyone had a 4x4 then 35K deaths/year would be avoided

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: one in three traffic fatalities on US roads involve alcohol

      "which means that two out of three accidents were caused by sober drivers! We need a minimum intake requirement. Hic. Need a troll icon as well."

      I expect that part of the remaining 2/3rd are going to be on drugs (prescribed or recreational), fatigued or under the influence of unspanked brats. Another group will be victims of equipment failure (theirs or other), debris, ice, sand and all sorts of other hazards. Some people just aren't ever going to be fully defined as "sober" even if they've had no chemical infusions.

  10. John69

    Have they not heard of gloves?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Or the other way around ...

      Someone with a squirt bottle of meths going round a car park spraying the ventilation air intakes.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Or the other way around ...

        Because lots of cars are left unattended and unlocked and/or windows open?

        (I still upvoted you for the obvious thought that will pass through the minds of many drunk students thinking it's a funny and original idea and they are the first to think of it though :-))

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Or the other way around ...

          "Because lots of cars are left unattended and unlocked and/or windows open?"

          They meant the air intakes usually at the base of the windscreen where fresh air is drawn in. Even if the doors are left open, if the air in the car is saturated with alcohol, the sensor used to detect it will take time to dry out.

    2. brainwrong

      Or snorkels?

  11. DarkRookie

    So, is the NTSB going to pay me money when I lose my job because I had to get up early to keep it and couldnt get in cause the car thought I was drinking?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Depends. Were you still over the limit after getting up early from a night of heavy drinking?

      I get the point though. In a "call the lawyers" part of the world, these things will almost certainly be over cautious and fail with false positives rather than false negatives so the manufacturers don't get sued. We already see it in current automotive automation where adaptive cruise control slows you down when well back from the recommended distance between you and the car in front, or automatic headlights switching on because a dark cloud just passed over the sun.

  12. cornetman Silver badge

    I suspect that they are wasting their time with these systems. They would routinely get deactivated/disabled by drivers that were tempted to drink and drive.

    The real answer is for the police and government to take the existing legal framework more seriously. Lifetime bans for drink drivers would make a lot of drivers sit up and take notice.

    Having the current situation in most countries where a small amount of alcohol us permitted makes the assessment of if you are under or over the limit ambiguous, and let's face it if you have had a drink your judgement is likely to be a little impaired.

    In some countries, notable South Korea, there is *no* safe limit. No alcohol if you are driving. I think that this would perhaps be more effective.

    I do wonder how effective touch-based solutions would be when the driver is wearing gloves. Quite a few people routinely wear gloves, especially when it is very cold.

    I also question the safety of having the car just stop when alcohol is detected. I can't image that it would be very safe to do such a thing on the highway in heavy traffic. They could make it so that a stop below a certain speed but that would reduce its effectiveness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Zero Tolerance just generates more fines and statistics, not inproved safety

      Over here they keep lowering the permissible level, because either the city of the lawyers get about 10k$ per infraction. Then the insurance company gouges too. If there was a "warning" tier with a non-draconian penalty it wouldn't be so bad, but that isn't what is happening.

      Even in your example of South Korea, someone who leaves their kids wedding, having stopped drinking hours earlier, and testing themselves with an industry standard breathalyser could still be found braking the law even though they are not significantly impaired and not scoring on the scale of the tester they used.

      That's a system designed to generate penalties and sell taxi rides, not save lives. At that point you should be banning old people, but big suprise that neither are popular.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zero Tolerance just generates more fines and statistics, not inproved safety

        Now if your last name is Pelosi you can do whatever you want :)

        The American system is designed to gouge the little people. Civil asset forfeiture, eminent domain, policing for profit, private companies handling debts to the state, HOAs, the list goes on. Can't pay and you go to prison. Lost your job due to prison, oh dear, more prison. Don't forget you have to pay to stay in prison!

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34705968

        Land of the free supposedly....

      2. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Zero Tolerance just generates more fines and statistics, not inproved safety

        > That's a system designed to generate penalties and sell taxi rides, not save lives.

        It is a problem. Mind you if you have the right political intentions, you can build a system that works, particularly if you can get good buy-in from the populous.

        Years go, on our honeymoon in Norway, my wife and I were dithering about in a quiet town one day trying to figure out where to go, we noticed that cars on the road were all stopping. Turns out that we were "near" but not at a pedestrian crossing and the cars were stopping on the off-chance that we wanted to cross.

        I asked the tour guide about this, commenting that Norwegian drivers seem very courteous. However, she told us that fines for hitting someone on a pedestrian crossing were crippling. *No-one* wanted to take the chance. If you make the stick big enough, you can change behaviour.

        > Even in your example of South Korea, someone who leaves their kids wedding, having stopped drinking hours earlier...

        If you were drinking earlier in the day, I would say just don't drive. At all. It's really not worth the risk. Take a cab (cabs in South Korea are very cheap), have a designated driver who hasn't been drinking, or take public transit.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Zero Tolerance just generates more fines and statistics, not inproved safety

          "If you were drinking earlier in the day, I would say just don't drive. At all. It's really not worth the risk. Take a cab (cabs in South Korea are very cheap), have a designated driver who hasn't been drinking, or take public transit."

          You don't want to be on public transport when drunk. Too much of a chance you'd get rolled. Depending on where you are, there may not be anything running later at night and you'd still need to get from the stop to your home. My thinking on the taxi would be that I'd like to enjoy a few and not have to set a curfew of 6pm to stop when another nice glass of champagne is being offered. One time when a former roommate got married, I had the money to have a car and driver pick me up from the reception and take me to the BnB where I was staying. I paid in advance so there was no fumbling around with money other than a tip I had in a particular pocket for the driver. If you are going to be somewhere for a couple of days, a car service is much better than a taxi, especially for anything scheduled.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "They could make it so that a stop below a certain speed but that would reduce its effectiveness"

      That would just mean that every junction, every stop sign and every set of traffic lights would be blocked with 'drunk' drivers

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "The real answer is for the police and government to take the existing legal framework more seriously. Lifetime bans for drink drivers would make a lot of drivers sit up and take notice."

      More than a lifetime ban, but real prison time. I've watched plenty of the court shows where a person is in the dock for their teenth drink driving violation on a revoked license with no insurance. What boggles my mind is who would lend them a car or how could they afford one when they have such a problem with alcohol? It's expensive enough to have a few at home. At a bar, the cost of three drinks would buy the bottle at the store. Well, except for me since the scotch I like is rarely on offer at a bar since it's rather expensive.

  13. DS999 Silver badge

    Fine

    I'll accept this technology in my car in exchange for it being an affirmative defense to drunk driving - so if my car lets me drive then I can't be convicted of drunk driving, unless it can be proven that I did something to defeat the system. If the cops/courts want to claim this isn't accurate enough for that, then why should everyone be forced to pay more for a car to include technology that doesn't work?

    I think it would be great if I could get into my car and know I'm safe to drive if it lets me drive, and if it stops me then it has stopped me from doing something I don't want to be doing anyway so I'll make other arrangements to get home or screw around on my phone for an hour until my car will start.

  14. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Great ideas by the NTSB. Although maybe it would be easier and more efficient if the government would just lock us all in padded rooms immediately after birth, and keep us there for our entire lives. Kind of like the Matrix. Can't get much safer than that. Driving is dangerous, freedom of movement is grossly overrated, and the government's #1 job is to keep any of us from dying.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      To a certain kind of mind - mostly though not exclusively found in government bureaucracies - the fact that anyone can jump in a personal car at any time and go wherever they want is completely intolerable. People should stay where the system wants them to be, you see. Far neater.

  15. Notas Badoff

    Every which way but loose

    The same AIs that can't drive are now going to be able to prevent me from driving?

    "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

    "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Every which way but loose

      "The same AIs that can't drive are now going to be able to prevent me from driving?"

      I think we can all see that at some point some of this legislation is going to get passed. The closer that gets, the more I really want to open an auto shop that caters to people that would rather not comply and will pay to make sure then don't have to. New customers by personal reference only.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      What is the biggest speed limit in Germany?

      1. Lordrobot

        Yeah, but those are Germans... You can always tell a German... you just can't tell them a damn thing!

  17. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    Happy

    No Thanks, Big Brother

    "...force the operator to blow into a tube to verify [his] blood alcohol content (BAC)..."

    To save far more property damage and lives:

    911 calls excepted, cell phones and dash "telematics" (distracting crap) are disabled while the vehicle is in motion.

    We should consider the dash tube only if it contains sensors that measure the potential oral skills of a date in the passenger seat.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: No Thanks, Big Brother

      No safety reason to stop a passengers from using a phone.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: No Thanks, Big Brother

        "No safety reason to stop a passengers from using a phone."

        With a handsfree headset, talking on the phone is no less distracting they having a conversation with a passenger. I do that and if I need to dedicate more attention to the call or need to take notes, I pull off or tell the other person to email me the information or I'll call them back in a little bit. If I "did" text, I wouldn't while driving. The reason I don't respond to Text is due to it taking too much capacity and too much time to be useful. I find email more handy for getting information and I have a system to store that info that I'd have to replicate for text messages and combine the two. No thanks. Call or email and stuff text.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First DUI automatic 6 month license suspension, no exceptions, would do it.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      In the UK the penalty includes a minimum 12 month driving ban for first offence. Plus fines and other penalties. Thereafter the compulsory motor insurance is increased several fold.

      People still get caught with more than double them alcohol limit.

  19. Lordrobot

    Cars slapping on the brakes at the first hint of....

    Aqua Velva after shave... or alcohol hand wipes... rum cake.... oh that could be fun...

    Wouldn't it be easier just to make all cars bumper cars?

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Cars slapping on the brakes at the first hint of....

      "In the case of breath-based detection, spectrometry is used to measure alcohol concentration in a driver's exhaled breath."

      Also screen wash. The one I use contains alcohol to assist in clearing bugs off the glass. When used while driving, the alcohol can be smelt as it drifts back through the ventilation system. It would be a problem if that caused the detector to stop the engine.

  20. Spanners Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Is this going to be

    Something else that only gives accurate results for white anglo-Saxon males?

    Obviously, being from the USA, they have a dearth of brown-skinned people to test this sort of thing on, they may have a default that anyone with too much melanin should not be driving anyway. Or will they just choose time limits?

    Again, will they just act on the principle that if they keep women off the road, this may improve traffic congestion?

    The only reliable ways to do this are either a surreptitious blood sample from something sharp in the steering wheel and forget about hygiene or everyone does one of those interlocks as described in TOA.

  21. Herring`

    Anyone else

    thinking about the drunk-test scene from The Man With Two Brains? Just me then.

    More seriously, having iffy tech determine guilt or innocence sounds like a terrible idea.

  22. Justin Pasher

    Convenient timing

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned HR 3684 (i.e. the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" that was passed last year in the US).

    The NTSB has no teeth itself. They can only make recommendations to other organizations like the NHTSA, which is what they are doing. I'm sure there's no coincidence with the fact that HR 3684 has a clause saying the exact same thing needs to be done, written in law. Sure the intentions are good (stopping a drunk driver from driving a vehicle), but do you really thing the rollout of such a system is going to work well enough to not cause problems?

    From HR 3684, Sec 24220

    (a) FINDINGS. Congress finds that -

    (5) to ensure the prevention of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology must be standard equipment in all new passenger motor vehicles.

    (c) ADVANCED DRUNK AND IMPAIRED DRIVING PREVENTION TECHNOLOGY SAFETY STANDARD -

    Subject to subsection (e) and not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a final rule prescribing a Federal motor vehicle safety standard under section 30111 of title 49, United States Code, that requires passenger motor vehicles manufactured after the effective date of that standard to be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Convenient timing

      The FAA has passed a rule that drones report their position in real time while being operated. The only difficulty is there's no mechanism to do that which means manufacturers can't include the capability in their products. ADS-B on aircraft is ruled out so all of the drones "down in the grass" don't overload that system. Using the cell network adds a bunch of overhead in places where there is coverage and means everybody would need another account/SIM for their drone. There are cities nearby me where a few blocks off of the freeway there is no phone signal and may not be for some time as they keep building through the canyons. T-Mobile in my city has had two periods of over 24 hours with no service (A big reason I switched to another carrier) this year and several outages of at least 2 hours. If I have to cancel a drone job for that, I'll be pissed.

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