Every year in the U.S., drunk driving claims approximately
10,000 lives and costs approximately $194 billion.
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Our Work


Despite progress over the past three decades, drunk driving claims approximately 10,000 lives each year. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program is researching a first-of-its-kind technology that holds the greatest potential we have seen to reverse this trend. The technology will automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 - the legal limit in all 50 states - and prevent the car from moving. It will be made available as a safety option in new vehicles - like automatic braking, lane departure warning and other advanced driver assist vehicle technologies.

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The DADSS research program brings together the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), which represents the world’s leading automakers, in one of the most important government and private sector partnerships in recent years. Congress and safety advocates nationwide are supporting the effort, making DADSS part of a multi-faceted national commitment to reduce and eventually eliminate drunk driving. The research and testing is being overseen by a team of independent engineers and scientists, and will be further tested under real-world operating conditions before it is made available as a consumer option.

Technologies We're Exploring

The goal of the DADSS research program is to advance the state of alcohol detection technology by developing a system that is fast, accurate, reliable and affordable – all without affecting normal driving behavior. The program is exploring two different technologies for vehicle integration: a breath-based system and a touch-based system.

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Breath-Based System

This system measures the alcohol level in a driver’s naturally exhaled breath unobtrusively. It will be designed to take instantaneous readings as the driver breathes normally and to accurately and reliably distinguish between the driver’s breath and that of any passengers.

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Touch-Based System

This technology measures blood alcohol levels under the skin’s surface by shining an infrared-light through the fingertip. It will be integrated into current vehicle controls, such as the start button or steering wheel, and take multiple, accurate readings in less than a second.

What's Next

When the program began in 2008, DADSS focused on research and creation of proof-of-concept laboratory prototypes to determine which technologies were most promising for vehicle integration.

In 2013, NHTSA and ACTS extended their agreement to further develop and test the breath-based and touch-based prototypes to reduce the size and ensure they meet strict performance standards related to speed, accuracy, precision and reliability.

As part of the ongoing research, the prototypes will be integrated into vehicles for a series of field tests, which will allow engineers to observe driver behavior in natural settings and thoroughly test the systems in real-world scenarios.