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Driver’s Deliberation: Breath-testing technology may stop drunk drivers, privacy concerns raised

Albuquerque, New Mexico — A U.S. senator has announced a partnership with the Technical Working Group on Impairment Prevention Technology to create systems in accordance with 2021 legislation that requires all new vehicles to carry alcohol detection systems to combat drunk driving.

Anti-drunk driving technology has been in the works for years now and Australia passed similar legislation 2022. In most countries, drunk driving remains a leading cause for traffic accidents and is largely a non-partisan issue. However, other issues stopped the tech from entering the mainstream.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a 2009 survey of U.S. drivers indicates that two in three respondents supported “fast, accurate and unobtrusive” breath-testing devices in all cars. At the same time, less than half were enthused with the idea of paying for such systems.

The technology has been proven, installed as interlocks for people convicted of alcohol-impaired driving, said the IIHS. However, the feasibility of widespread implementation has become an issue of personal liberty and privacy as well.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a bipartisan legal advocacy organization, the implementation of such devices worsens the problem of non-consensual data collection by OEMs.

Additionally, video analytics, data security, inaccurate readings and the extreme level of monitoring raises questions regarding algorithmic biases, privacy intrusion and how false negatives and false positives would be dealt with.

Canadian advocacy group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving have previously recommended the installation of breathalyzers in cars as a standard practice, in an interview with CityNews Vancouver. However, the federal government has yet to introduce legislation regarding the standardization of on-board breathalyzers on all vehicles.

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