Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

New Volvo device will detect drunk driving and intervene

Connecticut drivers should know that drunk driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle crash fatalities in the U.S. It has been so for a century now, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that around 11,000 people die as a result of drunk driving every year. While there are vehicle systems available to detect alcohol intoxication, they are not yet mainstream.

There are, of course, ignition interlock devices, which are in-car breath tests. Thirty-four states require these in the cars of DUI offenders. There are also systems that detect lane drifting and other unsafe behaviors. Some in-car technology can react to such situations by slowing the car down for the driver. However, it is Volvo that will take these various features and combine them into one device for monitoring and intervening against drunk driving.

The system will primarily use in-car cameras that track eye movement and are triggered by drivers closing their eyes for extended periods of time. It will also check for any lack of steering input over long periods of time, lane drifting and extremely slow reaction times, which are all signs of alcohol intoxication.

The system will slow the car down and then park it safely. If drivers do not respond to a phone call after that, the system will alert local first responders via a telematics system.

Even when they don't end in death, drunk driving car accidents can leave victims with serious injuries that require long-term medical care. Connecticut follows a modified comparative fault rule that says victims can recover damages as long as they are 51% or less at fault for a crash. Of course, filing a claim and negotiating with the auto insurance companies is another matter altogether, so victims may want a lawyer to assist.

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