The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that “alcohol impairment detection systems” be fitted into all new vehicles in the United States to prevent an intoxicated person from getting behind the wheel.
The recommendation comes following an investigation into a crash near Avenal, California on Jan. 1, 2021, that killed nine people, including seven children.
Investigators found that the driver of the vehicle lost control because of a “high level of alcohol impairment,” with NTSB noting that his blood alcohol concentration was more than double California’s limit of 0.08 grams per deciliter.
In a press release on Sept. 20, NTSB said that as a result of the investigation into that crash, the agency is recommending a string of new in-vehicle technologies that “can limit or prohibit impaired drivers from operating their vehicles” as well as technologies aimed at preventing drivers from speeding.
“Technology could’ve prevented this heartbreaking crash — just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the U.S. annually,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now to save lives.”
Such technologies include “passive vehicle-integrated alcohol impairment detection systems,” as well as “advanced driver monitoring systems” or a combination of both that would prevent or limit vehicle operation if a driver is over the legal alcohol limit.
The NTSB, which has no regulatory authority and can only ask other agencies to act, is recommending that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) require all new vehicles to be equipped with such systems.