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Congress will require automakers to implement anti-drunk driving tech in vehicles

In context: Driver assistance technologies have been around for many years, but they’ve become far more sophisticated over the past decade or so. Some modern vehicles, such as Teslas, are capable of near-total automation (well, sort of). Many others boast helpful auto-braking, lane-keeping, and exit-taking features, all of which can significantly reduce driving risk when implemented and used correctly.

However, US lawmakers don’t feel that sort of functionality is doing enough for the safety of drivers.

As part of President Biden’s new infrastructure bill, officials tossed in a provision requiring automakers to include anti-drunk driver tech in their cars. This technology would need to be implemented “as early as 2026,” Autoblog reports. Provided the NHTSA can come to a consensus on what the tech should look like, that is.

The bill is light on details, which is to be expected — that’s for the NHTSA and the auto industry as a whole to figure out. However, it does require the technology to be capable of passively monitoring any given driver and identifying whether or not they’re too impaired to be behind the wheel. Regardless of what form the final tech takes, there could be privacy implications for drivers.

What if vehicles use facial recognition to determine whether or not you’re drunk? What if they monitor your driving habits to establish a baseline, and then constantly scan for deviations?

Both methods — and plenty of others — could work, but they’d undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers. On the other hand, putting an end to drunk driving is certainly a worthwhile pursuit, and some may argue that the ends justify the means.

In 2019, roughly 10,142 deaths were caused by drunk driving-related incidents, averaging out to around 28 fatalities per day, according to the NHTSA.

However you feel about the idea, both its detractors and proponents will have plenty of time to make their opinions on the matter known. Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has passed Congress, but it will still likely be years before the NHTSA comes up with a solution for anti-drunk driving features in cars, much less begins enforcing it on automakers.

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