NHTSA Introduces DADDS To Stop Drunk Drivers

A new system called DADDS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) was introduced to lawmakers, researchers, and safety advocates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today.

DADDS is designed to prevent a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in a driver. The system under development can do this in one of two ways, either through detection of alcohol in the driver’s breath or through touch on the vehicle’s starter button.

DADDS has been under development for several years through a joint effort by NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) a coalition of automotive industry groups. Together, they have worked with private sector researchers to develop this potentially life saving technology.

More than 10,000 deaths per year are caused by drunk drivers. That’s approximately one-third of all highway deaths in a year. It’s hoped that this system, once it’s fully developed, can prevent the majority of those deaths.

According to NHTSA, the research has been in progress since 2008 and is progressing in three stages:

  • Phase I – Research and analysis of two different technological approaches to measuring driver alcohol levels – a touch-based approach allowing assessment of alcohol in human tissue and a breath-based approach allowing assessment of alcohol concentration in the driver’s exhaled breath focused on speed, accuracy and precision. Completed 2011.
  • Phase II – Additional Research and testing of touch-based and breath-based sensors to improve accuracy and precision performance, and decrease measurement time to meet or exceed DADSS performance specifications. The prototypes will then be installed in a research vehicle. This phase is expected to be completed early 2016.
  • Phase III – Phase III and subsequent phases of research will permit further refinement of the technology and test instruments as well as basic and applied research to understand human interaction with the sensors both physiologically and ergonomically – that is, how these technologies might operate in a vehicle environment. This phase began in late 2013 and is being conducted in parallel with the Phase II research.

Once the DADDS system is fully developed, NHTSA hopes that starting a vehicle will be seamless and practically unnoticeable to a sober driver but impossible for a drunk driver.

Read more: DADSS technology offers big leap forward in drunk driving prevention