The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on its sister agency to implement regulation requiring all vehicles sold in the US to include blood alcohol monitoring systems. The NTSB sent the recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday after completing an investigation into a horrific collision last year that involved drunk driving and the death of two adults and seven children.
“Technology could’ve prevented this heartbreaking crash — just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the US annually,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now to save lives.”
According to statistics published by the NHTSA, nearly 43,000 people died on US roads last year, marking the highest that number had been in 16 years. While traffic deaths fell slightly between April and June, Ann Carlson, the agency’s acting administrator, said a “crisis” was still underway on the country’s roads. “We need NHTSA to act. We see the numbers,” Homendy told The Associated Press. “We need to make sure that we’re doing all we can to save lives.”
The NTSB says all new cars sold in the US should include an integrated system that passively detects if the driver is under the influence of alcohol. It notes that such a system could be combined with advanced driver monitoring technologies to prevent accidents. Separately, the agency recommends that the NHTSA incentivize automakers to include tech that prevents speeding-related collisions. The NTSB does not have the authority to regulate or enforce any safety measures it suggests. It has been calling on the NHTSA to explore alcohol monitoring technologies since 2012.
The NHTSA also faces pressure from Congress to mandate such systems. Under last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the agency has three years to study the feasibility of various alcohol monitoring technologies and establish a final set of rules. It can seek an extension, however. And in the past, it has been slow to implement such requirements.