Did The Feds Mandate In-Car Breathalyzers For New Cars in Texas?
Drunk driving is a menace to society. Every year in Texas, more than one thousand people are killed due to alcohol-related accidents. Per capita, according to a Forbes Advisor report, Texas is #3 in alcohol-related accidents in the nation.
The report also found that 40% of all traffic deaths in Texas were caused by a drunk driver in 2020, the fifth-highest total in the nation. It's not because Texas drunk driving laws aren't strict. They are. Plenty of messages in all media highlight the perils of drunk driving.
Nothing seems to work. Deaths keep adding up.
Now the Federal Government has decided enough is enough. President Biden's 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act requires breathalyzers in all new cars, possibly as early as 2026.
There is only one major problem with this idea. No one knows exactly how to do it yet. Technology doesn't exist. Several companies are working on this, and one is in the lead. Japanese chemical and electronics company Asahi Kasei and their Swedish subsidiary are close to developing a device.
Here's how it would work.
Whenever you want to start your vehicle, you must exhale towards a small sensor embedded in the steering column or side door trim. Then you would get a quick pass/fail reading on the alcohol content of your breath.
The sensor works through a detector that measures the specific wavelengths of infrared light absorbed by the surrounding air to determine whether you are intoxicated.
Hopefully, the detector won't go crazy if you suddenly pass gas. I also hope it isn't thrown off by that stale fast food french fry smell so many of us get in our car. What about those pine air fresheners? There is just so much to work out.
No one is sure how much these devices will add to the cost of a new vehicle. Current ignition interlocks for that purpose, often mandated for drunk driving convictions, generally cost up to $150 to install. Then there are monthly lease prices of up to $90
Other concerns are that while drunks are too impaired to drive, many intoxicated individuals are not too impaired to coerce an acquaintance into blowing into their car's breathalyzer for them.
I think many of us will resent the Federal Government's intrusion into just another area of our lives. Others will argue that no price is too high if it saves one life. I'm not sure how I feel. Then again, I've never lost a loved one to a drunk driver. I might feel different if I had.