Alcohol-detection devices should not be standard equipment on American cars, because they’re overly intrusive and their error rate is too high, according to a Gazette guest columnist.
“Automakers and the federal government have poured millions (including your tax dollars) into a government program called DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety), which is developing alcohol-sensing technology to be installed as standard equipment in all cars,” says, Sarah Longwell, the managing director of the American Beverage Institute, in a guest column published Monday. “Congress recently boosted the program’s funding with $10 million in this year’s federal highway bill. This month, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the speedy completion of the DADSS program.
“While the technology is supposed to be used on a voluntary basis, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and fervent DADSS supporters such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have freely admitted that the longer-term goal is DADSS in every vehicle.
“If it was guaranteed that these devices would be set at the current 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit, the technology wouldn’t be quite so troubling. Unfortunately, to avoid liability, these factory-installed devices will have to be set below 0.08 — possibly as low as 0.02 or 0.03, the level an average-sized man reaches after one drink.
“Even worse, if these new alcohol detection devices are manufactured to the highest reliability standard — that is, they function properly 99.99966 percent of the time — they still malfunction an estimated 4,000 times every day.
“If they’re slightly less reliable — i.e., accurate 99.7 percent of the time, there would be as many as 3 million daily misreadings. That’s up to 3 million moms unable to pick up their kids at school, employees unable to get to work and Christmas shoppers stranded at home.”