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Can technology run DWI off roads? » Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – “I still see headlights in my nightmares.”

It’s a memory shared by too many New Mexicans who survived an accident with a drunk driver. Senator Ben Ray Luján announced last week that he is one of them.

Ben Ray Lujan

In a Zoom meeting on RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone) that he co-sponsors with Senator Rick Scott, R-Florida, Luján recalled, “In the summer of 1992, I was seen less than half a mile from home I have two headlights coming straight towards me. No time to react. And a drunk driver hit me head-on. … This accident and this head-on collision changed my life forever. “

His RIDE Act (he took on Senator Tom Udall’s mantle), like the HALT Act in the house, sponsored by Representatives Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., David McKinley, RW.Va., and Kathleen Rice, DN. Y., “would include a variety of drunk driving prevention systems, including driver monitoring, which can detect signs of distracted, impaired, or fatigued driving, and alcohol detection, which uses sensors to determine that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, and Then stop the vehicle from moving, ”said Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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Luján says, “The Road Safety Insurance Institute has found that more than 9,400 drunk driving deaths can be prevented each year if drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new vehicle. This is exactly what the RIDE law provides. “

Scott, who said he lost two friends in an accident with a drunk driver, insisted, “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American problem. “

When asked about the cost and appearance of the systems (does every car have a cumbersome ignition lock?), Ken Snyder, executive director of the state-of-the-art Shingo Institute in Utah, said it would cost little to nothing and would not be visible because it was primarily It’s about how much software is optimized in newer vehicles to detect irregular driving and get the vehicle off the road.

He says there are at least 241 possible systems, including lane detection and automatic braking, that can play a role. The RIDE and HALT laws would give the Department of Transportation the power to make such detection mandatory in new vehicles.

According to the datasheets that were part of the presentation, Volvo, Nissan and Toyota already have systems that monitor irregular driving and / or alcohol disorders:

Volvo has sensors and cameras in the car that watch for signs of poisoning and distraction, from poor steering to closed eyes, and then intervene to prevent accidents if the driver does not respond to warnings – speed limit, alarm on On-board assistance service or ultimately take control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe standstill.

• Nissan has “alcohol odor sensors, face monitoring and vehicle behavior to detect impairment of the driver.” The odor sensors are located in the gear knob and in the seats of the transmission, the face monitoring in the instrument panel to check for drowsiness with a wink, and the monitoring the operating behavior in the software that checks whether a driver is staying in a lane. Each triggers a voice alarm and a seat belt tightening to get the driver’s attention.

• Toyota has an “Alcohol Detection System … which … automatically turns the vehicle off if sensors detect signs of excessive alcohol consumption.” The “sweat sensors in the drive wheel detect high alcohol levels in the driver’s bloodstream”. Sensors can also detect “abnormal steering” or when a special camera indicates that the driver’s pupils are not in focus. Then the car stops. “

“This technology already exists,” says Luján. “If you can talk about self-driving, autonomous vehicles, you can absolutely implement technology that will save lives. There shouldn’t be a question about it.

“I was lucky,” says the senator. “My heart breaks for the families who weren’t so happy. Drunk driving has brought pain in the homes of many New Mexicans. People across America mourn loved ones due to a drunken traffic accident. … But Congress can take action; we can do something. “

In the first three months of 2021, there were 17 streets on streets in New Mexico that DWI was involved in. There were 34 last year, 40 in 2019. Except for the many accidents involving drunk drivers, in which people have suffered debilitating injuries, or those who, like our Senator, were “lucky” to go away with nightmares.

“By using cutting-edge alcohol detection technologies and obliging automakers to incorporate this technology into new car models, the RIDE Act will help keep our roads safe and prevent unnecessary deaths.”

UpFront is a daily front page news and opinion column. Comment directly to the editorial page editor D’Val Westphal at 823-3858 or dwestphal@abqjournal.com. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to send a letter to the editor.

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