How Tech Is Tackling The Driving Under The Influence Issue On Our Roadways

The UK automotive market is changing, and it’s not all about electric cars. While much of the focus has been on the predicted increase in electric car sales for 2021 and the banning of petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2030, there are also some significant developments in technology aimed at improving the safety of cars- particularly reducing the number of drunk driving incidents every year. In the UK, it is estimated that an average of 3,551 people is injured in drunk driving incidents every year. The continuous rise in cases has led to the country’s police force cracking down on drunk drivers and initiating widespread driver education campaigns. Now, manufacturers in the tech and automotive industry are joining the fight, with several of them launching technology targeting drunk driving in recent years.

Ignition Interlock Devices

In a recent CarWow survey, 38 percent of respondents agreed that anti-drink driving technology should be fitted to all cars. One such system is the alcolock feature, which prevents a driver who exceeds the blood alcohol level from starting the car. The technology works under the same premise as a breathalyser and can be fitted to a variety of vehicle models. Some alcolock models like The Alert J5  are now used by law enforcement and public safety organisations. An ETSC published review showed that the use of alcohol interlocks cut reoffending rates both during and after rehabilitation programmes in several countries. In the UK, the penalty for a DUI case can be up to 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or a driving ban for up to 1 year. However, in some cases, drivers may be able to reduce their ban if they opt to enrol in a drink-drive rehabilitation scheme. 

Intelligence Speed Assistance Technology 

Another technology that UK drivers could be seeing in their cars soon is intelligence speed assistance (ISA) technology. In April 2019 the European Parliament approved the use of ISA technology in all new cars from 2022. With a major proportion of motor accidents and deaths on European roads being attributed to speeding, manufacturers are keen to find ways to reduce the driving speeds without compromising vehicle features. A great example has been Volvo’s move to limit its cars’ speed to 112 mph. With the use of ISA technology, the car’s navigation system and camera logs speed data and begin to alert the driver if it exceeds the stated speed limit. The fuel also begins to be restricted and as a result, the car begins to slow down slowly. Tests by ADAC on a Ford S-Max found that 90 percent of the time ISA systems were accurate.

AI-Enabled Autobraking Technology

Over forty countries will now require that new cars have auto-braking technology including Japan and countries in the EU. The agreement took effect in 2020 and was part of a large scale initiative to reduce roadway accidents, particularly on urban and narrow roadways. However, there have been concerns over drivers being able to override autobraking controls by using an accelerator kick down. The regulation also only applied to new cars and commercial vehicles, leaving the current cars on today’s roadways free from adhering to these new safety regulations.

Now, more manufacturers are introducing advanced safety and auto-braking systems using artificial intelligence (AI). Response to the new additions has been largely positive.  In a recent report by Consumer Report, there was an incident where a 2017 Subaru Outback stopped completely before the driver could react when a deer jumped in front of the car.

These innovations are not being embraced in name either. Research has shown that drivers are willing to pay for safety technology than fuel devices. With more companies investing in the market, governments championing the inclusion of more safety technology, and drivers forking out for it, it seems everyone is on the same page about technology’s role in making cars-and the roads- safer.

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