In-car breathalysers and speed-limiting technology should be fitted to all new cars, according to the US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) body

    The Federal body says “tens of thousands of fatalities” caused by drunken or speeding drivers in the USA could be avoided with more advanced in-car technology.

    It’s recommending the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) – which regulates vehicle safety in the USA – makes breathalysers or monitoring systems “capable of preventing or limiting vehicle operation”, if they detect the driver is impaired, mandatory.

    It’s also calling for carmakers to be incentivised for fitting “intelligent speed adaptation systems that would prevent speed-related crashes”.

    According to the NHTSA, more than 230,000 people have died because of crashes involving alcohol impairment in the USA since 2000 – including 11,654 people in 2020 alone.

    In Victoria, Australia, the Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) says 20 per cent of road fatalities involve people a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading over the 0.05 limit. In the USA, the legal BAC limit is 0.08.

    The calls for technology to take a more hands-on approach to restricting drunk drivers are unlikely to be in vain, at least in the USA.

    A major infrastructure bill recently passed in the USA says “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology must be standard equipment in all new passenger motor vehicles” due to the impact of drunk drivers on the road toll.

    However there’s no firm proposed timeline for the rollout.

    Speed limiters are already a hot topic, even beyond the USA. New vehicles sold in Europe must feature speed recognition technology that warns the driver if they’re over the limit, while some brands have gone a step further and are limiting their vehicles to a top speed of 180km/h – regardless of where they’re being driven.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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