Schumer says technology can stop drunk drivers

Senator pushes bill to speed up ignition lock research

July 29, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Senator Charles Schumer wants to make it harder for drunk drivers to get behind the wheel of a car. Eagle file photo by Bill Kotsatos
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Someday, a drunk person won’t be able to drive a car because the car won’t start. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said he wants someday to be here soon.

Schumer (D-New York) is pushing legislation called the ROADS SAFE Act that would speed up the development of technology to prevent drunk drivers from operating a car. The technology would disable a car’s ignition if the driver is found to be above the legal blood alcohol limit. It works with the use of sensors inside the auto that are equipped with touch or non-invasive breath technology that can detect in less than a second when a driver is over the legal limit.

Schumer said the next step in the developmental process is for the technology to be road-ready.

New York’s senior senator is calling for the passage of the legislation that he said would help move the testing along.

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He spoke out in the wake of the July 18 tragedy in Cutchogue, Long Island involving four women in their 20s who were killed when an allegedly impaired driver slammed into the stretch limo in which they were riding. The four victims were members of a bridal party. The driver was charged with driving under the influence.

“All it takes is one drunk driver to rip apart a family, which we unfortunately saw this past week when four innocent young women were tragically killed on Long Island,” Schumer said in a statement. “Drunk driving is a scourge that takes a toll on countless families and communities across the country, and that’s why we need a new, innovative approach to keep our kids safe and our families intact. That’s why I’m putting my full weight behind this legislation and urging Congress to commit to making sure this technology is fully developed in due time.”

The ROADS SAFE Act, which Schumer is co-sponsoring, would direct funding toward Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico).

Under the bill, $6 million would be directed toward DADSS funding in Fiscal Year 2016 and the program would receive funding each year through Fiscal Year 2021.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes in the U.S.

In 2013, there were 8,368 alcohol-related crashes in New York state, according to Schumer, who cited statistics from the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles. Of those crashes, 358 were fatal, he said.

New technology is needed to stop drunk drivers because existing devices, such as ignition locks, are obtrusive and can inconvenience a sober driver, Schumer said.

Schumer said that while the legislation doesn’t require the new technology in all new cars, he will be pushing for this technology to be an option for all and a mandate for those with DWI convictions 

He estimated that it would cost $150-$200 per vehicle to install the anti-DWI technology.

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