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NHTSA Utilizes Technology and Virtual Reality to Combat Drunk Driving

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a slogan we see and hear almost daily, whether it be a television commercial or on a billboard on the highway. Drunk driving is a serious epidemic that negatively affects the lives of thousands of Americans each year. In 2015, 10,265 people lost their lives as a result of alcohol-related car crashes, which was a 3.2% increase from the prior year. Statistics also show that drunk driving increases dramatically over the holiday season.

Over 40% of all highway deaths occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are related to alcohol. That number jumps up to 58% for the New Year’s holiday alone, compared to 29% for the rest of the year. Regardless of the numbers, “drunk driving accidents are 100% preventable,” says National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. It is precisely because of the preventable nature of drunk driving that members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), devote so much time and effort to technological projects like Last Call 360.

Last Call 360 is the newest addition to the NHTSA’s battle to end drunk driving. Through Last Call 360, the NHTSA created a virtual reality experience where users can simulate a night of drinking, including the potential consequences of drunk driving. The simulation begins in a bar, where users can chat with other bar patrons and order drinks. Throughout these interactions, users are presented with facts and data on alcohol and drunk driving. The website provides users with a “drink meter,” which measures sobriety based on the number of drinks consumed while at the bar. Users can order as many drinks as they like and are free to exit the bar at any time. However, if the user attempts to drive after drinking, they are subjected to a simulated police DUI stop.

The ultimate goal of Last Call 360 is to create a realistic experience through which users can learn about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. While Last Call 360 is beneficial to all individuals regardless of gender or age, it was originally targeted for young men aged 21-34. Recent statistics show that males between 21-34 account for nearly 32% of all drunk driving incidents, and men (regardless of age) are responsible for around 81% of drinking and driving incidents.

The NHTSA has also teamed up with automakers to install devices in new vehicles that detect the presence of alcohol in drivers. This new technology is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). The idea is designed to detect whether a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. If the device detects a BAC of .08 or higher, then the vehicle will not move, potentially eliminating a case of drunk driving. DADSS was first introduced in 2008 and has gained support, not only from safety organizations but also from alcohol producers and the automotive industry. While DADSS is still in the testing and development stage, a recent $5.1 million dollar funding agreement from both Federal and state officials means that this safety program could become an effective weapon against drunk driving in the near future.

Safety organizations are embracing the powers of technology, but for the foreseeable future, drunk driving remains a major problem. If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a truck accident as a result of another’s impaired driving, it is imperative to have an experienced auto accident attorney on your side. For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004.