The NTSB’s recommendations — which cannot be implemented without being adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — specifically include requiring all new vehicles have “passive vehicle-integrated alcohol impairment detection systems, advanced driver monitoring systems or a combination of the two that would be capable of preventing or limiting vehicle operation if it detects driver impairment by alcohol.”
Reiterating a recommendation made in 2017, the NTSB also suggested the NHTSA incentivize “vehicle manufacturers and consumers to adopt intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) systems that would prevent speed-related crashes.”
Intelligent speed adaptation systems can range from a warning system that issues visual or audible alerts when a driver is speeding to a system that electronically limits the speed of a vehicle. The NTSB did not specify which type of system should be adopted.
An investigation into a California crash that killed nine people, including seven children, on New Year’s Day in 2021 led to Tuesday’s recommendations, according to the NTSB. Investigators, the agency said, “found that the SUV driver (involved in the crash) had a high level of alcohol intoxication and was operating at an excessive speed.”
NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said on Tuesday that the technologies “can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the U.S. annually.”
Thirty-two people die of alcohol-related collisions every day — more than 11,000 every year, according to the NHTSA. It reported fatalities climbed 5% in 2021.
The NHTSA said in statement Monday that it “has initiated work to meet the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s requirement for rulemaking concerning advanced impaired driving technology in vehicles.”
Such technologies include cameras and sensors outside a vehicle that monitor driving performance, cameras and sensors inside a vehicle that monitor a driver’s head and eyes and alcohol sensors to determine whether a driver is drunk and subsequently prevent the vehicle from moving.
The vehicles will be retrofitted and installed in vehicles across a variety of city departments, and will also be tested on 14 new, all-electric Ford Mach Es.
This story has been updated with comment from the NHTSA.