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MADD president: focus on making drunk driving prevention tech

Drunk driving is an epidemic as most drivers in Connecticut know. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is behind 29% of all roadway fatalities. Drunk driving crashes accounted for 11,000 fatalities and over 200,000 cases of injury in 2017 alone. With automakers focusing so much on semi-autonomous vehicle technology, it may be a good time to start developing drunk driving prevention systems.

This is the belief that the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving expressed in a congressional hearing in May of 2019. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, such a prevention system, if fully implemented, could save 7,000 lives annually. There are various ways to go about developing a system.

Volvo, for instance, has announced a system that can detect alcohol intoxication in a driver based on cameras and sensors. Other auto manufacturers, the president of MADD believes, have labs with the high-tech capabilities to develop similar technology.

One group has been working on an advanced passive system called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. With a combination of touch- and breath-based systems, it can recognize drivers with a BAC exceeding .08 and respond by making the car inoperable. Breath-based systems, in particular, show a lot of promise: They could become available by the end of 2020.

Car accidents resulting from drunk driving may give rise to personal injury claims on the part of victims. These claims are separate from the criminal charges that drunk drivers face, but victims may be entitled to seek punitive damages, which go beyond compensatory damages and are meant to punish the defendant. Victims who are considering a claim may want to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer to have the lawyer negotiate a settlement on their behalf.

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Mark H. Pearson, Attorney at Law
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