Partners push AV tech to stop drunken driving deaths

Partners push AV tech to stop drunken driving deaths

Automakers, suppliers, policymakers and traffic safety advocates are all proponents of autonomous vehicle technology as a key development to making roads safer.

And self-driving vehicles have additional supporters: those working to fight drunken driving.

A vehicle that could safely navigate itself without needing a human driver could have major implications for not only eliminating driver distraction and dramatically reducing traffic collisions, but also saving thousands of lives, advocates say. More than 10,000 people die every year in drunken driving crashes in the U.S., according to NHTSA.

Velodyne Lidar Inc. and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are partnering for the third year to raise awareness about AV technology. The partnership is part of MADD's ongoing support of AVs and fight for legislation that would make standard certain technologies in new vehicles, such as advanced driver-assistance systems, driver-monitoring cameras and alcohol-detection technology.

"Any one of these three technologies could address a large percent of the drunk driving deaths, and when combined, we believe that they could almost perfectly eliminate drunk driving deaths," MADD advocate Ken Snyder said on the June 16 episode of Automotive News' "Daily Drive" podcast.

Driver-assist technologies and Level 2 automated driving systems come with blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning and other features that should be able to detect erratic or impaired driving, MADD says. Driver monitoring could detect not only drug- or alcohol-related impairment, but also drowsiness or distraction.

AV company Waymo and MADD have also partnered to campaign for driver safety.

"What we hear when we hear that it's not time or when we hear the tech isn't ready — which we know is not the case — all we hear is more people need to die senselessly before we can do this," Rana Abbas Taylor, who lost family members to a drunken driver, said in the episode. "And that is not OK."