Could We See Technology That Detects Impaired Driving in 2024?

There’s new technology that could prevent DUI deaths, which would be a game-changing advancement for curbing drunk driving. 

“With historic increases in traffic deaths over the past three years, implementation of impaired driving prevention technology is urgently needed,” Stacey D. Steward, chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said in a statement. 

According to Forbes, “If technology that recognizes when drivers are dangerously impaired by alcohol or other causes and prevents them from driving were installed in every vehicle on the roads, thousands of lives could be saved every year.” 

What’s on the table from a legislation standpoint is passing a federal requirement that all new passenger vehicles be equipped with this type of system, which most Americans overwhelmingly support. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that nearly two-thirds of respondents (almost 65%) in a nationwide survey agreed that driving impairment technology should be standard in all new vehicles. 

If implemented, the systems would be able to detect blood alcohol content and monitor driving with cameras and sensors. In years to come, the technology could also detect drugged, drowsy, or distracted driving, which could be helpful as a test for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Legalizing Pot Makes for a Sticky Situation on Roads

Last year, a 25-year-old driver with marijuana in his system misjudged his speed while approaching an exit ramp on a Bronx highway and crashed into a nearby house. The force of the crash ejected him from the car, which proved fatal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found in a recent study that about 26% of drivers who were seriously injured or died during a car crash had active THC in their system. This test shows how dangerous it can be to drive while high and the consequences for those on public roads.

Nightmare scenarios like these are precisely what safety advocates predict will become commonplace on our nation’s roads as the list of states legalizing marijuana for recreational use continues to grow. The NHTSA offers these fast facts to help support why this is a growing problem on the roads:

  • The psychoactive component of marijuana can slow reaction times, impair cognitive performance and make it more difficult to keep a steady lane position.
  • There are many misconceptions about marijuana use, such as rumors that it can make you a safer driver or it can’t impair you. Several scientific studies show that this is false.
  • If you’re feeling a little high, buzzed or stoned, never get behind the wheel. If you do, you will be arrested for DUI.

Drive Responsibly By Following These Tips

There’s still a lot to learn about the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana. And we need better equipment for detecting and measuring marijuana-related impairment. 

The science of intoxication surrounding marijuana is different from that of alcohol and may demand a more nuanced response by policymakers and law enforcement. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself, your passengers, pedestrians and other people on the road safe. 

  • Plan a safe and sober ride home ahead of time.
  • If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure all your guests have a sober ride home.
  • If you have smoked or ingested an impairing substance, do not drive.
  • If you know someone who is impaired, take their keys and don’t let them get behind the wheel.
  • Call 911 if you see an impaired driver. 
  • Always wear your seatbelt — it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

Under the Influence, State-By-State Laws

The federal government is scheduled to complete rule-making for driving impairment technology in 2024. To review the laws on marijuana and driving in your state, click here.

If you have been the victim of a crash caused by a driver impaired by marijuana and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.