There is exciting news in the ongoing fight to prevent--and maybe even eliminate--a major threat to the American family: drunk driving.
There has been enormous progress since MADD’s founding 30 years ago. Together, we have cut drunk driving fatalities nearly in half, but we still face the entirely preventable loss of almost 12,000 deaths last year. That's nearly 1/3 of all traffic-related fatalities each year--100% preventable.
Advanced technology to prevent drunk drivers from operating vehicles holds the real potential of eliminating this threat. For nearly three years, our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and leading automakers, working through the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, have partnered on an advanced alcohol detection research program called DADSS, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.
DADSS is an ambitious undertaking, addressing a broad range of issues while developing a technology to prevent drunk drivers from operating vehicles without disrupting the normal driving that is such an integral part of our everyday lives.
The early phase of the project has focused on identifying technologies that sense a driver's blood alcohol content level in an unobtrusive way, while also being extremely reliable, durable, repeatable, maintenance-free--and relatively inexpensive.
In the first phase of technology development, three companies are developing prototypes to be delivered to project experts in late spring or early summer. The next step will be testing at a lab associated with the Harvard Medical School.
The key will be public acceptance, and initial surveys are quite promising.
Developing advanced alcohol detection technology through DADSS is one of the major elements of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving (CEDD). DOT is pleased to work with MADD on this activity through NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, who serves as Honorary Chairman of the CEDD.
I encourage you to look for future entries reporting on further progress with this important initiative, or go to www.dadss.org.