WASHINGTON – An independent group made up of auto safety experts and consumer advocates issued recommendations Tuesday to the US Department of Transportation as it develops a safety standard to curb impaired driving.
A provision in the infrastructure law passed in 2021 mandates NHTSA to issue a final rule by November 2024 requiring new vehicles to be equipped with advanced impaired driving prevention technology.
Once the rule is issued, automakers will have two to three years to implement the technology as standard equipment in all new light-duty cars and trucks.
The technical working group’s guidance comes after months of research and is intended to help NHTSA meet the statutory deadline for completing rule-making.
Among its recommendations, the group suggests first including a system in vehicles that can detect blood alcohol content and later expanding those systems to eventually detect driver impairment due to drugs, drowsiness and distraction. Could
“The best driver impairment detection systems will be able to detect a wide range of impairment types and respond in a way that limits risk to everyone on the road,” the group said in its guidance. “With this approach, the prevention of drug-, distraction-, or fatigue-related driver impairment would not be necessary in the early years of the mandate, nor would interference with the operation of a moving vehicle be required. While a comprehensive system is the goal, the [technical working group] believes that the benefits of early deployment far outweigh the cost of waiting for a complete system.”
The group was formed in 2022 to review existing technologies and other developments that could meet the requirement. It is co-chaired by Stephanie Manning, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and former NHTSA associate administrator Jeffrey Michael.
“After a comprehensive review, we believe that passive impaired driving prevention technology is an achievable need that will save lives from road deaths and injuries,” Michael said. “Our goal is to offer federal regulators our findings regarding this complex but necessary and life-saving need.”
Other participants include Nat Buse, Aurora’s vice president of security; Kelly Funkhouser, Program Manager of Vehicle Technology consumer Reports, Don Tracy, a retired Denso North America executive; and David Juby, chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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