Congress has created a new requirement for automakers: Find a high-tech way to keep drunken people from driving cars.
It’s one of the mandates along with a burst of new spending aimed at improving auto safety amid escalating road fatalities in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that President Joe Biden is expected to sign soon.
Under the legislation, monitoring systems to stop intoxicated drivers would roll out in all new vehicles as early as 2026 after the Transportation Department assesses the best form of technology to install in millions of vehicles and automakers are given time to comply.
In all, about $17 billion is allotted to road safety programs, the biggest increase in such funding in decades, according to the Eno Center for Transportation. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday that could mean more protected bike paths and greener spaces built into busy roadways.
The new requirement requires that automakers design a system that “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”
GMC, BMW, and Nissan already has systems inside the vehicles that monitor a drivers behavior. Cameras installed in the vehicle observe the driver looking for signs of drowsiness or impairment. When the system detects an issue the vehicle warns the drivers and if the system feels the drivers is worse the vehicle slows down, puts on its four ways and pulls to the side of the road.
The safety controls are great however, where does the data collected by the cameras go? Can the vehicle be hacked? Jeep had an issue with hacking a few years. It’s one thing if safety features are sandboxed inside the vehicle (meaning the data from the safety systems is not collected) it’s another if Americans have to sign a Facebook like software user agreement to purchase a car that costs thousands of dollars.