New cars may soon require technology that prevents drunk or impaired driving as U.S. auto safety regulators announced on Tuesday that they have taken the first step toward such a mandate.
The advanced notice will help set potential alcohol-impairment detection technology standards in all new passenger vehicles when the technology is mature, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said.
These types of detection devices are required as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress passed in 2021.
"It is tragic that drunk driving crashes are one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities in this country and far too many lives are lost," Polly Trottenberg, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s deputy secretary, said in the statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced its annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement campaign, which runs through Jan. 1. (Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
In 2021, the latest year for which data is available, 13,384 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, costing $280 billion in lost wages, lost quality of life and medical costs, the statement said.
U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said that drunk driving crashes are one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities in the country. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)
In December 2021, alcohol-impaired deaths hit a nearly 15-year high with more than 1,000 people killed in drunk driving crashes, the NHTSA said.
The agency emphasized that the holiday season is an especially deadly time and announced its annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement campaign, during which law enforcement officers nationwide will step up efforts to get impaired drivers off the road through Jan. 1.