By Andrew Liszewski
Those court-ordered breathalyzers that prevent a car from starting until you blow an acceptable blood alcohol level are effective, but they’re not exactly quick. And they have to be installed as an after-market component. But a new system, being developed by the North American division of a research company called QinetiQ and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, could already be built-in to vehicles as they roll off the assembly line, invisible to the driver.
Instead of having to blow into a tube, the vehicle’s steering wheel or door handles would be equipped with new touch-based sensor technology that can read a driver’s blood alcohol level through their skin. And the results would be calculated almost instantaneously, taking less than a second. So far functioning prototypes have been demonstrated so the technology is definitely enroute, however the head of the NHTSA, David Strickland, says that it won’t be employed until it’s “seamless, unobtrusive and unfailingly accurate…” Yeah, probably a good idea.