Technology Could Eliminate Risk of Houston Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers

New technology offered standard in automobiles — or mandated for those convicted of DUI — could someday all but eliminate the threat of Houston car accidents caused by drunk drivers.

As we reported recently on our Houston Injury Lawyer Blog, Texas leads the nation in the number of fatal drunk driving accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 47 percent of the state’s fatal accidents involve alcohol, leading to 1,437 deaths in 2009.

Houston automobile lawyers understand the devastation that too often results when someone decides to climb behind the wheel after having too much to drink. As states continue to get tougher — there is even talk of lowering the legal limit of .08 — new technologies could play an important role in reducing the risks.

“Drunk driving continues to be a national tragedy that needlessly claims the lives of thousands of people on our highways each year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood. “We need to put an end to it.”

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety is a $10 million effort involving the NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS). The system under development would ultimately be installed by the manufacturer. It would test a driver for the presence of alcohol either via a passive cabin breath test or by touch, such as a thumbprint.

“What we’re doing is developing technology that won’t interfere with sober drivers, will require virtually no maintenance or upkeep and will have such precision that it only stops a driver when their blood alcohol content is .08 BAC or higher, which is the illegal limit for drunk driving in every state,” said Shane Karr, VP of government affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Now that we have actual prototypes, a tremendous feat in itself, we’ll be working to identify the gaps in performance between these prototypes and the precise standards we’ve identified as true technology requirements. This will point the way forward for the next phase of research.”

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland called it a “new frontier” but said technology should not aim to replace common sense.

“Whatever the future holds for these advanced drunk driving prevention technologies, one thing remains clear; no technology can, or should, ever replace a driver’s personal responsibility not to drive drunk,” the Administrator said.

If you have been involved in an accident in the Houston area, contact The Stephens Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Houston Injury Attorney Joe Stephens has nearly three decades of experience representing personal injury and wrongful death cases. Call today at 281-623-1701 or contact us through this website.