About a year ago, we covered a story regarding a Biden-approved infrastructure bill that holds a passage regarding a requirement for automakers to begin including a “vehicle kill switch” within the operating software of new cars that’s capable of disabling a vehicle from operating if it detects driver impairment. The system 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, the kill switch could be mandated on every new car sold in the United States. Even GM CEO Mary Barra is talking about it now.
Having a knack for being ahead of the curve, MC&T brought attention to this matter in December of 2021.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published its preliminary report on the mandate, laying out the challenges facing its implementation for all to see. NHTSA is seeking feedback from the public on the issue. According to The Washington Post, the agency is curious to learn if the public will accept the potential for false positives that could prevent sober drivers from operating a vehicle. Just imagine an emergency, but you can’t do anything because your car won’t start due to a false positive. Or any other situation for that matter, we’re sure your boss would understand if you called in saying you won’t make it to work because your car’s “prevention technology” had a false positive.
Even if the system is 99.9 percent accurate, that could still amount to a million false positives a day, which is something all of us will have to deal with if this system is implemented. The NHTSA also wants to know how the government should educate the public about technology-related privacy concerns. More sensors mean more data collection, posing further privacy concerns.
The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety aims to have a working drunk-driver detector by the end of 2025, and automakers will have to figure out how to install it in new cars even as the agency notes the system could increase costs and complexity, which will undoubtedly be passed onto the consumer.
Be sure to make your voice heard regarding this new proposal at regualtions.gov by searching for the docket number, NHTSA-2022-0079, and follow the instructions once it’s been published to the federal register. You can also mail or fax your comments to the US Department of Transportation.