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How DADSS May Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents

By Joseph Low on June 21, 2021

person behind the wheel at night

Drunk driving causes almost a third of all fatal collisions in California. Officials throughout the state have worked for decades to reduce these numbers through strict enforcement of DUI laws and heavy penalties for repeat offenders, yet many of them still slip through the cracks and cause catastrophic accidents. However, new technology may help reduce drunk driving fatalities by stopping them at the source.

What Is DADSS?

Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, is a research program that started in 2008 with the goal of developing new technology to prevent drunk driving accidents. The current goal of DADSS is to develop technology that can passively detect whether a driver has a BAC of 0.08%, the legal limit for drivers aged 21 and older, or any amount of alcohol for underage drivers. This technology is designed to be built directly into a car’s infrastructure and will automatically shut off a vehicle if the driver is above the legal limit.

It is sponsored by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle’s Highway Safety Office, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), all of which are working together to make this program a reality.

Given that drunk driving fatalities have increased over the past few years in California, this new technology could reduce these numbers drastically by preventing drunk drivers from getting on the road. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) theorizes that this technology could reduce national drunk driving rates by a quarter. While the research program intends for the technology to be voluntary, the goal is to market it as an added safety feature for drivers, similar to automatic emergency brake systems.

How Does DADSS Work?

DADSS is researching and developing two types of detection systems: a breathalyzer system and a touch-based system.

  • Breathalyzer detection: The breathalyzer detection system would be located either on the interior of the car’s door or on the steering column. Whenever a driver breathes, the system will automatically use infrared lights to analyze the driver’s BAC level by comparing the amount of carbon dioxide and ethanol in a driver’s breath.
  • Touch-based detection: Touch-based technology is designed to detect ethanol levels below a driver’s skin. This detection system would be based in the vehicle’s ignition switch or the gearshift, where a beam of light would shine against the driver’s fingers. An infrared tissue spectroscopy would then analyze the driver’s blood levels to determine if they have any ethanol within their system.

Both systems are being developed to distinguish between drivers and passengers.

Another key feature of this technology is the potential for drivers to set up zero-tolerance limits, which would prevent their vehicles from starting at all if the system detects any amount of ethanol by breath or touch. This is especially important to parents of underage drivers, who cannot drive at any BAC level, as well as semi-truck drivers, who have a legal limit of 0.04%. One major goal of this program is to develop this technology for modern trucks and help prevent DUI truck accidents.

This technology is still being researched and tested, but since 2013, researchers have made it their goal to drastically reduce the size of this equipment so that it can naturally fit into a standard passenger vehicle and have a near-perfect accuracy rate. This program uses the same standards of safety as the Department of Defense when it develops new technology and hopes to have 99.9997% accuracy, which is far above modern medical equipment.

How Is DADSS Better Than Ignition Interlock Devices?

Unlike DADSS, ignition interlock devices only rely on breathalyzer tests to detect if a driver is above the legal limit, and they are only required for drivers who have already been arrested for a DUI. DADSS, on the other hand, would be built directly into new vehicles and would passively detect a driver’s BAC levels. The goal of this system is to prevent all drivers from driving while intoxicated, not just those with prior records.

Legal Guidance for Victims of DUIs

While this technology is still in the prototype phase, we can only hope that it becomes a modern staple for all vehicles in the United States. Until then, victims of drunk driving accidents should never forget their rights. If you were injured by a drunk driver or lost a loved one to a drunk driver, then you may be able to recover compensation from that driver’s insurance company.

At The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, our founding attorney is a strong advocate for accident victims throughout California. There is no excuse for drunk driving, and accident victims deserve full compensation for their injuries. Mr. Low is an experienced trial attorney with more than two decades of experience fighting to get his clients compensation after run-ins with negligent drunk drivers. Let him stand up for you.

Call us at (562) 901-0840 and toll-free at (888) 454-5569 to get a free case evaluation from a California auto accident attorney.

Posted in: DUI

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