WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 fatalitiesThe $1 trillion infrastructure package The President Joe BidenIt is expected to sign soon

After the Transportation Department evaluates which technology is best to use in the millions of vehicles, and after automakers have had time to conform, the new legislation will allow monitoring systems that can be used to identify intoxicated drivers to roll out in all vehicles by 2026.

According to the Eno Center for Transportation, $17 billion has been allotted for road safety programs. This is the largest increase in funding for such programs in many decades. Pete Buttigieg (Transport Secretary) said Monday that it could result in more safe bike routes and greener places built along busy streets.

“It’s monumental,” said Alex Otte, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Otte called the package the “single most important legislation” in the group’s history that marks “the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”

“It will virtually eliminate the No. 1 killer on America’s roads,” she said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 20160 people died from traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2021. It is the highest number since 2006. According to the agency, the cause of the spike was speeding, impaired driving, and the inability to wear seatbelts when there was the coronavirus pandemic.

Every year around 10,000 people are killedAlcohol-related fatalities account for almost 30% of all traffic accidents in the United States, according to NHTSA.

Some drunken drivers who are convicted must now use breathalyzer devices that attach to their ignition interlock. This allows them to blow into a tube which can disable the vehicle and prevents blood alcohol levels from rising. The legislation doesn’t specify the technology, only that it must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”

Guidehouse Insights principal mobility analyst Sam Abuelsamid stated that the best system for preventing drunk driving are infrared camera systems to monitor driver behavior. This technology, which is being used by Nissan and BMW to keep track of driver behavior while also partially automating their driver-assist programs, has already been installed by major automakers.

Cameras are used to ensure that a driver is paying attention on the roads and looking for signs such as drowsiness or loss of consciousness.

The cars will alert the driver if signs are found. If behavior persists the car may turn on its hazards lights and slow down to pull over at the side.

Abuelsamid said breathalyzers aren’t a practical solution because many people would object to being forced to blow into a tube every time they get into the car. “I don’t think it’s going to go over very well with a lot of people,” he said.

This bill requires automakers install rear seat reminders in order to notify parents in case a child is accidentally left behind. The mandate could be implemented by 2025, once NHTSA has completed its ruling on the matter. About 1,000 children have been killed by vehicular heatstroke in the past decade. after the highest total in a single year was 54According to Kidsandcars.org, 2018

Congress directed the agency, however, to revise decades-old safety standards in order to prevent deaths due to collapsing front seatsbacks. It also issued a rule that required automatic emergency brake and lane departure warnings for all passenger cars. However, no deadline was established.

Automakers were already committing to standardizing automatic emergency braking in all models of vehicles, in accordance with a voluntary plan that was announced during the Obama Administration’s final weeks.

Buttigieg, promoting the legislation’s benefits at a White House briefing, said he had traveled the country in recent months and seen too many roadside memorials for people who had died in preventable traffic deaths.

He pointed to a new $5 billion “Safe Streets & Roads for All” program under his department that will in part promote healthier streets for cyclists and pedestrians. The federal program, which he acknowledged may take several months to set up, would support cities’ campaigns to end traffic fatalities with a “Vision Zero” effort that could build traffic roundabouts to slow cars, carve out new bike paths and widen sidewalks and even reduce some roads to shift commuters toward public transit or other modes of transportation.

The legislation requires at least 15% of a state’s highway safety improvement program funds to address pedestrians, bicyclists and other nonmotorized road users if those groups make up 15% or more of the state’s crash fatalities.

“The best way to allow people to move in ways that are better for congestion and better for climate is to give them alternatives,” Buttigieg said. Describing much of it as a longer-term effort, he said, “this is how we do right by the next generation.”

However, safety advocates fear that the bipartisan bill misses opportunities to deal more effectively with the U.S. epidemic of road deaths and have urged Transportation Department for immediate solutions.

The group has called upon the NHTSA, which is sometimes slow to respond, to fix the problem. backlog of traffic safety regulationsThe mandatory reminders for rear seats were ordered almost a decade earlier by Congress. The department recently said it will release a “safe system approach” to road safety in January that identifies safety action for drivers, roads, vehicles, speeds and post-crash medical care.

“Prompt action must be taken on comprehensive, commonsense and confirmed solutions to steer our nation toward zero crash fatalities,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “Proven solutions are at hand; it’s time to take action.”

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Krisher reports from Detroit.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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