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Drunk driving deaths are down, but MADD and others say the number could be lower with new technology

Posted at 2:16 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 17:16:08-04

There were fewer people killed last year in alcohol-related crashes in 2018, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The NHTSA reported Tuesday that their highway crash fatality data from 2018 showed that alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 3.6% from 2017.

Still, that's 10,511 lives that could possibly be saved with new technology.

“It doesn’t have to happen and we can use technology to eliminate it,” says J.T. Griffin, the chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD is supporting newly proposed legislation that would make it mandatory for all new vehicles to have technology that can detect whether a driver is drunk by 2024.

The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019, or RIDE Act, would continue to fund research that's been in the works for more than a decade.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, Research Program is still in testing.

It uses sensors to detect alcohol on the breath.

It's expected to be used in fleet vehicles in the next year or so.

MADD also points to other drunk-driving prevention technology.

“Volvo has announced that it has its own system that uses driver monitoring and cameras that could detect impairment and driver impairment, and that they're planning on rolling this technology by the early 2020s,” Griffin says.

The proposed bill is similar to efforts in the U.S. House.