Because the electronic data recorder mandate that will see automakers installing so-called “black boxes” in every car in the future wasn’t enough, the feds now are mulling how to sniff drivers for drunkenness.
In a press release from Tuesday, Dec. 11, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials recommended two things. The first– installing ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of those people convicted of driving while intoxicated– probably won’t raise too much ire. The device would require the driver to blow into a breathalyzer machine which would lock the car’s ignition if the driver’s estimated blood alcohol content (BAC) was above legal limits. That feature could be beat by a resourceful driver, I’m sure, but that’s another article for another day.
It’s the second measure recommended by NTSB that is likely to raise eyebrows of privacy watchdogs. The Board said it “strongly endorsed the continued development of a passive alcohol-detection technology” that “would prevent alcohol-impaired individuals from operating their vehicles by detecting alcohol in the driver’s system through breath- and touch-based sensors.”
As The Car Connection pointed out, the technology would have quite a hurdle to cross, “for example, separating the driver’s breath from that of her passengers, or distinguishing between a wine stain on someone’s clothes and wine on his breath,” according to TCC writer Richard Read. Read surmised, however, that it was “likely only a matter of time” before regulators and the industry overcome those hurdles and the technologies become viable for future cars.