Technology to help prevent drunk driving could soon be required in all new cars

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Drunk driving remains one of the leading causes of death on our roadways. The latest federal data shows more than 13,300 people died in those kinds of crashes in 2021.

It’s a tragedy that Vickie Brown understands personally.

On May 30, 2004, she said a drunk driver hit her family while they were on the way home from the movies. Her 12-year-old son Darius died. Since then, she’s been a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.


“If I don’t tell the world who Darius Jo’Van Brown is they won’t know because a drunk driver took his voice so I am now his voice,” said Vickie Brown.

After nearly two decades of pushing for change, Brown said they’re celebrating a major victory.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is developing a new safety standard to try to prevent these deadly tragedies. It involves technology to detect whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol and stopping them from operating the vehicle.

Recent analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows mandating these sensors in cars would save more than 10,000 lives a year.

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Right now, the agency is gathering information about car technology to detect impaired driving. This includes how to avoid false positives and how to deploy it safely and effectively.

Brown said this moment is a bittersweet milestone.

“Why is it taking so long? And why couldn’t we have this technology in place when my crash happened? Where was all of this on May 30 of 2004? Why couldn’t something like this already be in place on May 30 of 2004 so that I could still have my baby,” said Brown.

We also reached out to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents the major car manufacturers about this effort.

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In a statement, it said “We’re reviewing the announced rulemaking from NHTSA. Every single day automakers are working to make vehicles safer and smarter and to help address avoidable tragedies caused by behavior like drunk driving.”

As technology advances, Brown said she’ll keep fighting.

“I do this to keep his memory alive,” said Brown. “I fight for his memory. I fight for the world to know who Darius Jo’Van Brown is and I fight to end this senseless act.”

The federal government is working to finalize the standard by this fall. Then automakers would be required to install this technology in new cars as soon as 2026.

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