By Colleen Sheehey-Church

MADD National President

National Presidet Colleen Sheehey-Church

The future is honking – and the U.S. Department of Transportation is listening.

Recently, MADD Chairman of the Board David Strickland, CEO Debbie Weir, Chief of Legislative Affairs J.T. Griffin and I had the opportunity to meet with United States  Department of Transportation 9DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao. I must commend them for their ability to see the lifesaving potential of autonomous vehicles and advanced technologies like the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).

Secretary Chao shared that the DOT os making advanced technology a priority and preparing to launch updated federal guidance on such technology, which will be greatly appreciated.

Autonomous vehicles and DADSS

Advanced technology is already changing the way we drive. Take for instance rear-view cameras and parking assist features currently available. I am not going out on a limb to predict that we will see more usage of sensors, cameras, radar and real-time 3D mapping rolling out on future vehicle models.

In 2006, MADD, the government, traffic safety advocates and members of the automotive industry created a panel to encourage and support the development of new technology that would stop drivers from operating a vehicle if drunk.  The result was DADSS or Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.

Together, MADD and DADSS are working toward a nation free from drunk driving.  These devices will be accurate, reliable and totally transparent to you and me. They would only come into play if someone tries to drive above a .08 BAC.

I envision a future where DADSS is a standard safety feature, much like emergency brake assist or lane departure warnings are currently.

There are two technologies being studied,  one is a touch-based system that can read your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) through your fingertips and the other is an air-sampling system that can test and isolate just the air exhaled by the driver.  Both of these systems are well on their way to being tested in real vehicles.

Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving

MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church with DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and MADD CEO Debbie Weir

MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church with DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and MADD CEO Debbie Weir

This productive meeting also touched on the increase in traffic deaths and how MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is a proven plan that is moving us closer to a day when there will be no more victims.

MADD’s campaign focuses on law enforcement, ignition interlocks, advanced technology, and public support. Part of the campaign includes our support of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DUI Crackdown in December created by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.

Each of you can help by remembering that if your holiday celebrations will include alcohol, designate a non-drinking driver or use other forms of transportation.