Smart Cars that Detect Drunk Drivers

Alcotech,alcosense, lion SD 400,lion SD 500, medixA Personal Account from a young male driver

CMM Technology presents another personal account from a young male driver who speaks frankly about drink-driving and the new technology in the war against drinking and driving on our roads.

Last weekend my brother and I had occasion to be at a friend’s party. When we exited, I was so drunk I could not remember where the ignition switch of my car was located and had to ask my brother to drive me home. Had my car been one of those new vehicles with the latest gizmos such as the alcohol sensor, even if I had managed to get the key into the car ignition the chances are, it might not have started at all.

New Technology

The new vehicles are being fitted with state-of-the-art alcohol and fatigue sensors. The alcohol sensors are to be built into the car steering or the car ignition system that will do away with the key system. Instead, the driver will only have to touch the ignition panel and car would start – if you were not drunk that is, because the new touch technology is to have a built-in alcohol sensor system.1

The new technology being developed by QinetiQ North America will be available in most cars within the decade. The method is to use smart alcohol sensors embedded in the car ignition or driving wheel. These alcohol sensors would detect alcohol content in the blood through the skin and compare the results against the legally permissible limit that has been stored in the on-board system. If the alcohol sensor detects that the driver’s blood alcohol is above the legally permissible limit, the car will simply not start. The other systems such as light, etc. will function but the car itself will not start. 2

However, critics of the alcohol sensor system point out that:

  • If the car fails to start in the winter, the driver could well freeze to death
  • The driver could get someone else to put their finger on the ignition panel
  • If any non-alcoholic person can start the car then the car could be stolen
  • The owner might be able to hack into the system and raise the alcohol limit
  • If the government were to raise or lower the alcohol limits, the car owner would need to take the car for recalibration
  • Despite the driver not having taken any drinks, the alcohol detection system might malfunction leaving the driver stranded in the middle of nowhere
  • Not all people drink
  • Those who do not drink will still have to pay more for the mandatory alcohol sensors while buying the car and then also pay for its maintenance

QinetiQ points out that it would take at least another 10 years before all the little glitches in the alcohol sensors are ironed out and that they do not intend to market it until and unless they feel the alcohol sensors are one hundred percent perfect.

I guess some day in the near future my car is going to say to me “sorry, the alcohol in your blood is above the legally permissible limit” and if I argue it might add “listen mate, I don’t care if you’re in the middle of the Gibson desert – please walk home” and that would be that.3

CMM Technology supplies quality testing devices to all forms of industry and business. Saliva testing devices, urine testing devices, breathalysers – both hand held and all mounted are all available. Speak with CMM Technology about your alcohol and drug testing needs +618 1300 79 70 30.

Footnotes and references:

1. New ignition laws:

2. Car based alcohol detection system:

3. Nissan shows off concept car with alcohol detection sensors:

Tags: , , ,