Everyone knows that drunk driving is still a big problem, especially on those crazy Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights, where the designated driver ends up having a beer or two and going overboard. Some choose to take the responsible route in this situation and get a taxi to take them home, others take the risk, drive home and arrive safely and then there are those who take the risk and get into an accident. What if two of these three options were to be eliminated for the driver who cannot understand that considerable drinking and driving is simply not right? Well, a certain piece of technology may bring the end to that.
Some of the bigger automobile makers are beginning to come out with an optional accessory for their products called an alcohol detection sensor. Using a series of infrared lights and the touch sensitive systems that coming with cars now a days, these devices are able to detect a driver’s blood alcohol level and if it exceeds the legal limits, the car will automatically shut down. These devices will cost about two hundred dollars, the same price as your air bags, and drivers have the option of buying these devices.
I have mixed feelings on this product for a few reasons. I love the idea of stopping drunk driving essentially by force, but there are a few situations where I could see this product getting people into trouble. One would be rather unusual, but nothing is impossible. Suppose someone drives out of their town by a considerable amount and ends up drunk at a bar or other drinking establishment and now they need to find a way home. Suppose for the sake of argument also that this person comes alone. He or she realizes that they are too drunk, but also are unable to gain access to a taxi for whatever reason. What might this person do? If they really are too drunk but still have the presence of mind to know that they are too intoxicated to drive, this person may end up sleeping off their current state in their car. Seems pretty smart right? They sleep in their car for the night, no one gets hurt, and most importantly, no one drives home drunk. There is only one problem, this person has bought an alcohol detection sensor and is unable to keep their car on, so they have no access to heat, and depending on the time of year and what they are wearing, could very well freeze to death. In fact, they very well could die of dehydration or another heat related cause if extreme sun is common in their country. The second problem I have with it is the option of setting the device for those who have different alcohol limitation laws than others. A teen with malicious intents could very well set the car to the adult setting which would allow them to drink to a certain degree and use the car, which is not a good recipe for someone who may overestimate their abilities to handle their alcohol. The other more likely and less winded problem is that the device malfunctions, and now a person who has drank less than the limit or nothing at all has no access to their car.
I do not really see any way out of the device malfunctioning, unless there is an off and on switch for it, but that would defeat the entire purpose of the machine, since a drunk driver who feels confident they can drive can just shut it off. However, for the individual that may end up sleeping in their car, assuming in this case that the machine malfunctioning is not a factor, I say that the device should turn off the car if they try to change it into a gear that will put the car in motion. This way, if someone like my drunk but wise example is in trouble, they can leave the car in park and still have access to the temperature manipulations. I overall love the idea of stopping drunk driving via technology, but there is still a long way to go before it hits the market and evidently so, as there is no set released date for it yet.