Waltham, Massachusetts – U.S. transportation administrators have had a first look at technology being developed to prevent alcohol-impaired drivers from operating their vehicles while under the influence.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland were joined by representatives of several government and awareness groups to look at Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology at the QinteiQ lab in Massachusetts where it is under development.

DADSS is seen as a potential tool for keeping drunk drivers from being able to operate the vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above the legal limit of .08BAC or higher. The technology could be voluntarily installed as an option for new cars. Potential applications include a touch-based or breath-based system.

DADSS is being developed under a five-year, US$10 million cooperative initiative between NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, an industry group representing most of the world’s automakers.

The next stage of development, which would include practical demonstrations, could begin later this year.

Across the U.S., 10,839 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2009. These deaths make up 32 per cent of all fatal crashes.

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