There’s an innovative technology undergoing developmental refinements that could save lives by preventing drunk driving – and Virginia is playing a critical role in making this technology a reality.
The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety’s (ACTS) Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program is developing advanced vehicle safety technology that can automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08% -- the legal limit in all 50 states except Utah (0.05%) – and prevent the car from moving. Virginia became the first state to partner with the DADSS Program. This partnership – the Driven to Protect Initiative– is an example of the technological innovation happening in Virginia.
The DADSS Program is advancing the state of alcohol detection technology by developing a system that is fast, accurate, reliable, and affordable – all without affecting normal driving behavior.
In 2018, Governor Northam and the Virginia DMV announced a partnership with ACTS and James River Transportation (JRT) to conduct in-vehicle, on-road test trials. Technology integrators installed prototypes of the breath sensors into vehicles in the JRT commercial fleet. The data and feedback collected from the prototype sensors, as well as from the drivers themselves, have been invaluable to improve the technology as it is prepared for widespread commercialization.
In collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education, ACTS is developing and distributing a series of STEM lessons that put students in the shoes of the engineers and data analysts working on the DADSS technology. Virginia’s leadership in technology and innovation begins in our schools, and by showing students the practical application of their lessons, we can inspire a new generation to build technology that saves lives.
Focusing on the DADSS technology and the Driven to Protect initiative, ACTS also developed virtual learning modules and video content that show how the technology works, how alcohol affects the body, statistics and laws about impaired driving in Virginia, and more. All of these resources are available to educators through the Virtual Virginia learning portal – earning them continuing education credits – and available to the general public at the Discovery Hub.
In 2020, Virginia reported 6,624 alcohol-related crashes, 272 alcohol-related fatalities, 3,386 alcohol-related injuries on its roadways. Through Driven to Protect, Virginia continues to put the health and safety of its residents first by educating the next generation about responsible driving behavior and by advancing technology that can prevent additional drunk driving crashes, injuries, and deaths on its roads.