The death toll is half of what it was in the 1980s, but drunk driving still kills more than 10,000 Americans each year.
The U.S. Transportation department is showcasing one potential technical solution to the problem: A test vehicle with “DADDS”, the Driver Alcohol Detection System.
Before starting a DADDS equipped car the driver’s blood alcohol level must be checked by a device that measures alcohol both in one’s breath and skin.
Some members of Congress are already sold on the system.
“We can keep drunk drivers off the road,” says New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall, “it’s not impossible and we can get it done.”
The alcohol and restaurant lobbies are resisting.
“The fact is there is a lot of discussion right now about lowering the legal limit from .08 to .05,” notes Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute. “That would put a 120 pound woman in a situation where she could get arrested for a DUI after a single glass of wine with dinner.”
A final version of DADDS isn’t expected for several more years.
After that, if DADDS proves it can reliably detect blood alcohol levels, Congress will decide if cars and trucks will have to have as standard safety equipment, just like seat belts and airbags.