MADD Canada believes that, in time, technology will eliminate impaired driving in Canada.
New technologies are emerging that carry enormous potential to put an end to this problem and stop the deaths and injuries that occur on Canadian roads. Not only are we seeing tremendous advancements in devices designed specifically to stop impaired drivers from starting their vehicles, but technology is also emerging that can verify a driver’s licence, identify underage and problem drinkers and record and track driver performance.
Alcohol Ignition Interlock
Currently, the most wide-spread anti-impaired driving device is the alcohol ignition interlock. This device is similar to a breathalyzer and is installed in a vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must provide a breath sample. If the reading of the breath sample is over a preset BAC limit, the vehicle will not start. Once the vehicle is started, the interlock device requires the driver to provide breath samples at random pre-set times while the engine is in operation.
In 2006, representatives from MADD Canada, MADD US, Transport Canada, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Institute for Highway Safety, major automobile manufacturers and technology companies established the Blue Ribbon Panel for the development of a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
The panel is assessing the feasibility of a range of technologies that would prevent impaired driving, including the development of technology that prevents drivers whose BAC limit is above a preset limit from starting their vehicles. The technology will not require a breath test and will be virtually invisible to sober drivers.
Automated vehicles (AVs), also known as autonomous, self-driving or driverless cars, will be here much sooner than most people expect and will lead to major changes to transportation, cities and society as a whole.
Most car manufacturers and some truck manufacturers and technology companies are actively developing and testing AVs. Some preliminary versions of AVs are already commercially available:
Semi-autonomous cars, such as the Mercedes Benz S-Class are already commercially available; capabilities include lane-keeping, acceleration and braking.
Suncor is operating a fully-automated large dump truck in the Alberta oil sands.
Induct has launched the Navia, a fully-automated shuttle vehicle for campuses, airports and similar low-speed applications.
The City of Milton Keynes in the UK will receive its first driverless taxi “Pod” in late 2014. Testing will start in the pedestrian-friendly city centre in 2015.
The probable future roll-out of AVs will be evolutionary, although there are different visions of “evolutionary”.
Google and some other companies are likely to start with an electric, fully-automated, low-speed (25 mph), 2-seater prototype vehicle. A public pilot project using 100 to 200 of these vehicles will likely start in 2015 in California. Google hopes to have highway-capable self-driving cars by about 2018.
The car manufacturers are planning to deploy AVs using a different evolutionary approach. They will gradually add “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems” (ADAS) to familiar vehicle models. This will start with high-end models and then work down to a lower-price point models. ADAS systems typically include lane-keeping, intelligent cruise control (including braking), pedestrian alert / braking, and automated parking. By 2020, most major car manufacturers intend to have vehicles in their showrooms that are capable of driving themselves for some of the time.
Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp. (“ACS”) is a leading manufacturer of breath alcohol testing instruments and supplier of alcohol interlock technology/services with a well-earned reputation for the highest quality hardware, custom software applications and service delivery standards in the industry. ACS’ experience with alcohol interlocks stretches back more than 30 years, and its interlock products are used to inhibit drinking and driving in 19 countries on five continents. ACS is headquartered in Canada, where its interlock division (known as Guardian Interlock Systems) is the designated service provider for offender interlock programs in all ten Provinces as well as the Yukon Territory.
Alcohol interlocks combine sophisticated breath alcohol testing and microcomputer technology. The device is installed in a vehicle in a way that prevents it from being started until the intended driver passes a breath test to demonstrate that his blood alcohol content (BAC) is below an acceptable level.
The technology and service programs developed by ACS have become one of the most effective traffic safety initiatives in this country. Numerous studies over the last 20 years have proven that alcohol interlocks effectively separate drinking and driving–making responsible decisions for people who can’t or won’t make them on their own. In Canada approximately 11,000 alcohol interlocks are installed in offender’s vehicles, and last year alone these devices prevented a vehicle from being started by a drinking driver more than 193,000 times.
MADD Canada is proud of our long-term partnership with Alcohol Countermeasure Systems and their most recent commitment as Gold Technology Sponsor.
Today, many companies are working on developing technology that can protect our families and friends. To find out how your company can get involved in MADD Canada’s Technology Partnership Program for preventing deaths and injuries on Canadian roads, contact:
Andrew Murie, CEO
(905) 829-8805 or 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224 or firstname.lastname@example.org