New Analysis Follows Introduction of Two Federal Bills That Would Lead to Mandate for Drunk Driving Prevention Tech on All New Vehicles

WASHINGTON – Today Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released an updated analysis of vehicle technologies that are available now – or in various stages of development – that could be installed in vehicles to prevent drunk driving and other impairments and save thousands of lives a year.

The analysis was first submitted Jan. 11 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in response to the agency’s Request for Information on drunk driving prevention technology. MADD also submitted the RFI to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as part of the record for an April 27 auto safety hearing.

MADD’s update to the RFI submission follows the introduction of two bipartisan bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, that require NHTSA to issue a rulemaking that will lead to drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment on all new vehicles. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), David McKinley (R-WV) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY) introduced the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act on March 23. The bill is named in memory of a Northville, Michigan family, Issam and Rima Abbas and their children Ali, Isabella, and Giselle, who were killed by a wrong-way drunk driver while driving home from a Florida vacation in January 2019. On April 22, Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act of 2021.

“The HALT and RIDE Acts represent the beginning of the end of drunk driving forever,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “The many technologies MADD identified in the original RFI, and now our new RFI update, illustrate the very real potential for equipping all cars with technology that will stop an impaired driver. When you see what’s available now, the question becomes, ‘Why isn’t this already on cars and stopping these tragedies that kill 10,000 people and injure 300,000 every year?’ MADD believes automakers can solve this, and we challenge them to move quickly to start saving lives.”

More than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year when drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new car, according to a study released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

MADD’s updated RFI submission describes 241 examples of three different major categories of technologies that can reduce or eliminate drunk and impaired driving. Some of these technologies are referred to as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

  • 77 examples of driving performance monitoring systems can detect signs of impaired driving. These technologies monitor the vehicle movement with systems like lane departure warning and attention assist. These same technologies can be used to monitor erratic driving by a drunk or impaired driver. Although not currently programmed to detect drunk and impaired driving, these systems are standard equipment on almost all new cars today.
  • 122 examples of driver monitoring systems can monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically using a camera or other sensors. These systems can determine the state of the driver and detect if a driver is drunk or otherwise impaired.
  • 42 examples of passive alcohol detection technologies use touch or breath-based technology to detect if a driver is drunk. Examples are in two Patents filed 12 years ago by DENSO, one of the largest tier one auto suppliers in the world. The two Patents are for breath or touch-based systems and are detailed in MADD’s RFI:

An example of using both driving performance monitoring and driver monitoring was announced by Volvo in March 2019. Volvo said it would equip new cars with cameras and sensors to enable the car “to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.”

“All of these technologies could be beneficial not only to prevent drunk driving, but to detect other dangerous behaviors that lead to crashes such as drugged driving, drowsy driving, distracted driving and medical emergencies,” Otte said. “That is why we believe it is urgent that Congress pass the HALT and RIDE Acts, to get these lifesaving technologies in all new cars as soon as possible.”

For more information on the HALT and RIDE Acts, visit madd.org/HALT/RIDEAct

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.