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BIDEN-APPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: MANDATED KILL SWITCHES COMING TO CARS BY 2026

Deep Within The Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act Opens A New Doorway For Surveillance

President Joe Biden Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act RIDE Act Bill Law 2026 Vehicle Kill Switch Driving Impaired Drunk Prevention Technology Surveillance System
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Deep within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law by President Joe Biden is a passage that will require automakers to begin including what can be best summarized as a “vehicle kill switch” within the operating software of new cars, which is described in the bill as “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology”. The measure has been positioned as a safety tool to help prevent drunk driving, and by 2026 (three years after the enactment of the Act, per the text) the kill switch could be mandated on every new car sold in the United States. Then there’s the broader reaching RIDE Act, which we’ll touch on in a moment.

The legislation – if you want to read it – is short on details, and does focus mainly on drunk driving and the desire to reduce fatalities. That said, the bill, now law, seeks a Drunk and Impaired Driving Prevention Technology Safety Standard. That standard seeks to equip vehicles with “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.”

However, that doesn’t seem to be enough for congress. Compounding on the infrastructure Act is the bipartisan RIDE Act of 2021, introduced by Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and co-sponsored by senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Gary peters (D-MI), seeks to take things into deeper water. Much of it appears redundant, but seems to broaden the reach of the infrastructure law’s intentions.

Per the bill, the proposed safety device will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”

The language of the RIDE Act bill states the following:

To require the Secretary of Transportation, acting through the
Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to
prescribe a Federal motor vehicle safety standard for advanced drunk
and impaired driving prevention technology, and for other purposes.

“For other purposes” is the squishy, catch-all language that’s likely to raise the eyebrows of anybody who enjoys the liberty of operating an automobile, while the framework of how NHTSA would implement such surveillance technology into new vehicles is a giant question in and of itself. But the bill states the following:

Technical capability.–Any advanced drunk and impaired
driving prevention technology required for new passenger motor
vehicles under subsection (a) that measures blood alcohol
concentration shall use the adult legal limit for blood alcohol
concentration of the jurisdiction in which the passenger motor
vehicle is located.

Does that mean breathalyzers for every new car? facial scanning tech? Something else? It’s hard to really know at this time. Whatever the technology ends up being, it would be used towards “driving prevention.”

Why are we calling it a “kill switch?” Because “driving prevention surveillance technology for drunk/impaired/other purposes” just doesn’t roll off the tongue. For the sake of simplicity, we’re using a colloquial term here.

US Capitol Building Congress House Biden Infrastructure Bill Automotive Killswitch
Image via Wikimedia Commons

In software terms, “passively” suggests the “impaired driving prevention” kill switch technology will always be running in the background and constantly monitoring the vehicle for deviation from normal driving habits, which will also mean the vehicle will need to learn your specific idiosyncrasies behind the wheel in order to better profile your behavior.

The system will receive data inputs from critical operational controls, it will also be capable of overriding those controls so as to disable the vehicle either before or during driving once impairment is detected. However, the worst part of the legislation is the open nature of the system which will feature at least one backdoor for third-party access to the system’s data at any time.

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Never mind the pet conspiracy theories about hackers or other malicious forces being able to seize control of your vehicle and drive it off a cliff, what about the simple logistical aspects of this system.

How will the “kill switch” system outlined by the RIDE Act or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act determine impairment, and will such a system be able to distinguish impairment from garden variety drowsiness? If it’s designed to combat impairment will the system even warn the driver that control of the vehicle is being seized? Are we going to find ourselves in a society where sleepy people are being trapped in their cars as hostages on the side of the road until the police arrive to decide they are in fact not impaired?

Of course, the term “impairment” is also open to interpretation. Does that include housewives and Tiger Woods types who are blasted on prescription painkillers, or whatever pharmaceutical flavor of the week is en vogue come 2026? Or are we simply looking for symptoms of drinking, or trying to determine which toke of marijuana smoke is one toke over the line?

More questions start to pop up the longer you ponder this new legislation. Who has access to the data collected by the kill switch system? Will the police be given access to the data without a warrant? What about insurance companies, will they be granted access to the data in order to better understand what kind of driver is being insured, or worse, will they know with what frequency your driving habits “change” which could then be interpreted as impairment?

Further, when it comes to “driving prevention,” are we looking at the vehicle being locked in Park while running? Or will it not run at all?

The mandatory nature of such driving prevention technology will quickly take whatever joy, independence, and freedom we still derive from vehicle ownership and turn it into a nightmare that tramples on your rights in the name of safety for your own sake.

But what are we going to do, stop buying cars?

Cadillac Escalade Super Cruise General Motors GM A&T 5G Wifi Driving prevention technology vehicle kill switch monitoring passive

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his life. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael has wrenched on Fords as a dealership mechanic, worked with air-cooled Porsches in a small shop in Toronto, as well as Nautique ski boats in cottage country. Additionally, he was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR racecars, and cared for GT3 Cup cars. Currently he's working with a Duqueine LMP3 in the IMSA WeatherTech paddock.

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    1. Please for the love of god can our worthless politicians get this shut down before it’s implemented? Call me blackpilled but I have zero faith in either party to do the right thing.

    2. This is complete bs. The proposed bill is S.1331 “RIDE Act of 2021” and has nothing to do with Biden, his Administration, or the infrastructure bill. S.1331 has 4 supporting sponsors: two Democrats, and two Republicans. It hasn’t passed the senate, nor will it as it doesn’t have enough sport. Quit it with the lying and misinformation and do your own damn research.

    3. Well I can certainly see a lot of the old cars being bought up… and most could not even afford a new car – so another supply chain nightmare.. What planet am I on? What Country am I in – I am so freaking done with the facism – enough of this administration – people they have got to go!

          • Biden didn’t write it. Biden didn’t have anything to do with it — the act was formed by Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Sen Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Gary C. Peters (D-MI), and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

            With headlines like “BIDEN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL: MANDATED KILL SWITCHES” it’s telling everyone that it’s Biden’s doing. This is bad reporting and is what is manipulating all of the weak minded people out there and causing them to spit our country apart.

            The RIDE Act is bipartisan. So, if you want to get pissed, get pissed at above mentioned Senators.

          • Let’s be clear about what’s going on. The RIDE act was first drafted by Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) on 4/22/2021. After that, they picked up two more sponsors, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). It was then amended into the “Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021” penned by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on 6/10/2021. After this a version of the RIDE act was indeed pushed into HR.R.3684 and then removed from S.2016. Regardless, this is not Biden or his administration. It was bipartisan legislation.

            • For sure, the RIDE Act is bipartisan, and you’re right that Biden didn’t “make” the infrastructure legislation so to speak. But having the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on his desk and then signing it means that he’s responsible for making a law, yes? There’s the inclusion of passive monitoring driving prevention technology in the law, yes? It’s just that exactly matching the technicalities and the language of the law/bill makes for an awfully verbose headline. The article has otherwise been updated for more clarity, detailing the RIDE Act further.

          • No, the President does not make law. The President has the responsibility of approval (or veto) of proposed laws that have been submitted by Congress. If you need to be upset at anyone, be upset with Congress as they are ultimately responsible for the legislation within the bill – specifically, Rick Scott and Ben Ray Lujan.
            https://www.usa.gov/how-laws-are-made

            • Dude, so you’re trying to run cover for a demented president by saying he “didnt write it” when you damn well know he needs to approve of the bill. Not only that, its being snuck under the eye of gen-pop through the infrastructure bill. I thought the moto for those fighting fascism was “if you’re complicit in fascism, you are a fascist”

    4. I think you also need to consider this –
      In China, only certain people can drive on the roads on any given day.
      Nobody outside of the CCP can drive on the road if it is not “their day”
      I can almost guarantee this is going to be some “Climate Change” initiative in the near future.
      John can only drive on Monday and Wednesday, Steve can drive on Tuesday and Thursday, Jane can drive on Friday and Saturday.
      Sunday is a “Drive Free Day”, nobody can drive their vehicles and everyone will be “locked out”
      If you try to start your car on a day that you are “not allowed” your vehicle simply won

      • Or, it’s a prelude to all cars becoming subscription services, with dealers holding your car hostage until you pony up the fees, except it isn’t even your car anymore, it’s the dealership’s, and they rent it out to you.

    5. You are missing the biggest point. If 3rd parties have backdoor access to the “kill switch”, when will 3rd parties be able to activate it, “for your protection”, after seeing (how?) your “impairment”. After all, if it can override the vehicle’s controls, being able to shutdown the vehicle on command is the next step.

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