MADD Applauds Senators Udall and Corker for Introduction of ROADS SAFE Act

Mar 21, 2011, 11:52 ET from Mothers Against Drunk Driving

--Legislation Could Lead to the Elimination of Drunk Driving--

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is proud to support Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) as they reintroduced on March 8 the ROADS SAFE Act for consideration in the Senate. The bill authorizes critical funding to aid research of advanced vehicle technologies, which could lead to the elimination of drunk driving.

"MADD is grateful to Senators Udall and Corker for their bipartisan leadership in introducing the ROADS SAFE Act," said MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney. "This project could turn 'cars into the cure' for drunk driving by creating a passive, reliable and cost-effective technology to unobtrusively detect a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and, if the device reads at or above the legal limit of .08 BAC, the car could not be driven."  

"Drunk driving is still a leading cause of fatal car crashes across the country and in my home state of New Mexico," Senator Udall stated. "This legislation is designed to help keep our roads safe by investing in new technology that will prevent Americans from driving if they've had too much to drink."

"More than 10,000 people are killed each year in drunk driving crashes. By Americans choosing to utilize these types of safety measures, my hope is that we can ultimately help prevent those crashes and save lives," Senator Corker added.

"This research is significant to anyone who drives or has family on the road," said Shane Karr, Vice President for Federal Government Affairs, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "This research opens up the possibility of eliminating fatalities and injuries caused by drunk drivers, while not hassling people who are okay to drive. The only drivers who would notice this technology are the ones who shouldn't be behind the wheel in the first place."

The project is called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, and is the result of a cooperative research agreement between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), comprised of the world's leading auto manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In late January, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland both visited the research lab outside Boston, where the project is currently underway.  

To clarify, this legislation would provide funding limited only to research. In addition, the technology would be set at .08 BAC, not lower, and it would be an optional safety feature on new cars, not mandated on all vehicles. "This is not an ignition interlock device that you would find on a convicted drunk driver's vehicle today," said Dean-Mooney. Before it's introduced to the American public, the technology must be fast, accurate, reliable and repeatable. From the vehicle manufacturer's perspective, it must also be readily integrated into the vehicle's existing systems, be durable, require little or no maintenance, and be tamper resistant.  In other words, the device must operate seamlessly.  

Two companies were selected for phase II of the project and are under contract to develop prototype technologies to meet the goals of the program. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that such a system could have saved more than 8,000 lives in 2008. Moreover, a recent IIHS poll found 64 percent of Americans believe that advanced alcohol detection technology, which is reliable and would prevent an impaired driver from operating a vehicle, is a good idea.

The legislation provides $12 million per year, over five years, to help support the DADSS research. The funding would come from existing highway safety programs, which means there would be no additional expense to taxpayers.  

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded by a mother who lost her daughter in a crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America's roads. PowerTalk 21™ is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents, It's Your Influence® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 10 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at www.madd.org or call 1-800-GET-MADD.

SOURCE Mothers Against Drunk Driving



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