GM Collaborates with Regulators to Combat Drunk Driving: A Step Towards Safer Roads

January 1st, 2024 by

gm combats drunk driving

In a recent interview, General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra revealed the automaker’s commitment to working closely with regulatory agencies, particularly the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to integrate surveillance technology aimed at preventing drunk driving incidents in their vehicles. This development comes in response to the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which mandates the inclusion of advanced drunken- and impaired-driving prevention technology in all new vehicles sold in the United States.

GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, emphasized the positive impact of these monitoring systems, describing them as “good for everyone” and highlighting the technological capabilities that will make this endeavor possible.

The origins of GM’s passive drunk driving detection systems can be traced back to the provisions outlined in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This legislation tasks the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and NHTSA with preparing a rule for the integration of advanced prevention technology in new vehicles. The deadline for issuing this rule is set for November 2024, creating a sense of urgency for automakers to have their anti-drunk driving systems ready for implementation by late 2026 or 2027.

GM’s commitment to addressing drunk driving dates back to the early 2010s, with the development of the “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.” This innovative system incorporates both breath sensors and touch sensors to accurately determine driver blood-alcohol levels. While breath sensors are expected to be available for use by 2024 to 2025, touch sensors are still undergoing development, and a specific timeframe for their release remains unknown.

NHTSA administrator Ann Carlson encourages responsible drinking habits, urging individuals to use public transportation, arrange for a sober driver, or opt for taxi or ride-hailing services to ensure a safe journey home. The passive sensors currently in development raise questions about their ability to distinguish between the alcohol-laden breath of a drunk passenger and that of a drunk driver.

The breath-sensing technology is currently undergoing testing in both government fleets and privately-owned vehicle fleets. Mary Barra confirmed GM’s active participation in the trialing process, stating, “we’ve actually piloted with some fleets.” This hands-on approach reflects GM’s dedication to refining and perfecting the anti-drunk driving technology.

This week, the NHTSA took a significant step toward implementing the anti-drunk driving technology mandate by issuing an Advance Notice of Rulemaking. The notice outlines some of the standards that will be crucial in shaping the upcoming rule, signaling progress toward a safer future on the roads.

Mary Jo Wheeler-Schueller, owner of Wheeler Family Auto Group, expressed her thoughts on the potential legislation, emphasizing the group’s commitment to prioritizing safety. She remarked, “As a family-oriented auto group, safety has always been at the forefront of our priorities. We welcome any technology that enhances the safety of our customers and the community at large. GM’s proactive approach aligns with our values, and we look forward to supporting initiatives that contribute to safer roads for everyone.”


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