Albany, NY - July 27, 2015 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, today, pushed new legislation called the ROADS SAFE Act which would accelerate the development of new technology that would prevent drunk drivers from running their car by disabling the ignition if the driver is found to be above the legal blood alcohol limit. The technology works by utilizing sensors equipped with touch or non-invasive breath technology that can detect when a driver is over the legal limit in less than a second, and would prevent the car from moving. With the technology developed into a working model, Schumer says the next step is for it to be road ready and is calling for the passage of legislation that would help accomplish this goal in the wake of a tragic DWI-related crash on Long Island, in addition to the thousands of alcohol-impaired driving crashes that happen in New York and around the country each year that snuff out the lives of thousands. The tragic LI crash killed four innocent young women last weekend.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), every two minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving crash and on average two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Schumer’s ROADS SAFE Act co-sponsored legislation will direct funding for the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology. Schumer said this critical legislation will help adapt the new technology so it can fit into cars and be affordable for use.
“All it takes is one drunk driver to rip apart a family, which we unfortunately saw this past week when four innocent young women were tragically killed on Long Island. Drunk driving is a scourge that takes a toll on countless families and communities across the country and that’s why we need a new, innovative approach to keep our kids safe and our families intact. Use of sensible technology like DADSS could spare lives and families in the future. That’s why I’m putting my full weight behind this legislation and urging Congress to commit to making sure this technology is fully developed in due time. Increased funding will make sure the technology can fit into cars and be affordable for everyone to use,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer said that drunk driving kills 10,000 people across the country ever year, on average. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available) there were 8,368 police reported alcohol-related crashes. Of those crashes, 358 were fatal; 4,248 were non-fatal personal injury crashes and 3,762 were reportable property damage crashes.
Schumer pointed to the recent DWI-related crash on Long Island where four Long Island women were tragically killed in a limo accident last week, on July 18th 2015, in Cutchogue, by a man accused of drunk driving. The four young women, along with their four friends, were all riding in a limo together when another driver crashed into their vehicle. The driver was charged with a DUI.
Schumer is calling for passage of the ROADS SAFE Act, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Tom Udall and in the House ofRepresentatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey, which would increase funding to help make sure this technology is developed further to be used in vehicles. Schumer said that existing devices, such as ignition locks, are obtrusive and that future technology has to be unnoticeable and extremely accurate so that it doesn’t inconvenience a sober driver. Researchers developing the DADSS technology say that it will take readings in less than one second, while meeting strict performance standards that are higher than any other alcohol detection technology available today.
Schumer said that while the legislation does not require this technology in all new cars, he will be pushing for this technology to be an option for all and a mandate for those with DWI convictions. For example, a judge could require a repeat offender to use this type of technology in his or her car. A parent could decide to make use of this technology as they are teaching their teenager to drive, or with a car they are sending off to college with their recent high school grad.
Schumer pointed out that the cost of this technology would equate to about $150-$200 per vehicle, according to estimates—in line with other voluntary safety systems, like automatic braking. Schumer added that without this legislation, the implementation of this potentially life-saving technology would take even longer to implement and that in an age of new advancements each day, there is no excuse or time to waste when it comes to the acceleration of availability for this already developed anti-DWI technology.
Finally, Schumer mentioned how the current “ignition interlock” technology requires recalibration and routine maintenance, which comes at a cost, to remain in perfect working order. He also referenced a YouTube video which instructs on how to beat the current ignition locking technology by utilizing an air mattress inflator.
The Schumer-cosponsored legislation would authorize the following amounts of funding towards the program developing this anti-DWI technology:
- $6 million in FY 16
- $6 million in FY 17
- $8 million in FY 18
- $8 million in FY 19
- $10 million in FY 20
- $10 million in FY 21