MADD: it’s time for auto industry to develop drunk driving tech

Most of us realize that drunk driving continues to be one of the biggest dangers to St. Louis motorists and pedestrians, but the numbers on the website of the Missouri chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving really make the enormity of the problem clear. MADD says 28 people die every day across the U.S. in motor vehicle crashes caused by drunk drivers – that’s one fatal crash every 51 minutes of every day.

The organization also points out that there are 290,000 injuries caused by intoxicated motorists per year. That averages out to 794 injuries per day in the U.S., or 33 per hour.

The national president of MADD recently wrote that is time for the automakers and technology leaders to step up and deliver a system that can prevent people who have had too much alcohol to drink from driving.

Helen Witty wrote that it’s time for those industry giants “to accelerate the development of vehicle technology that would prevent a drunken driver from operating a vehicle and to make this technology available to consumers as soon as possible.”

Witty makes a good point. After all, new cars can park themselves, clean their own windows, tell drivers when they are drifting in their lanes and much more. There is no good reason why manufacturers and their technology partners cannot develop a system that would prevent drunk driving and save lives.

Witty points out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that such a system could save 7,000 lives per year.

She also notes that development of passive drunk-driving-prevention systems is underway. One system is touch-based and one is breath-based, but neither is yet available to car buyers. Many observers suspect that development of the systems languishes because they’re not viewed as “sexy” vehicle enhancements.

Those injured in St. Louis car crashes caused by impaired drivers can pursue maximum compensation for damages with the help of a qualified personal injury attorney.