Researchers in Massachusetts are working on a car that will sense whether its driver is too intoxicated to drive, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The car uses sensors to estimate the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), and if the driver’s BAC surpasses a pre-set level, the car will not start.
Cars equipped with the new technology will be able to sense a driver’s BAC in a few different ways, according to researchers. Some cars will use breath testing devices, similar to the ignition interlock devices (IID) already used in many states, including New Hampshire. New breath test sensors will test breath automatically and in less than a second. Others will use sensors installed in places drivers touch frequently, like the steering wheel or door locks, to test the driver’s skin to determine whether the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit.
The research is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which estimates that the new technology will keep thousands of drunk drivers off the road each year. However, the sensor-equipped cars will not be available commercially for approximately ten years.