New Bill Seeks $48M For In-Vehicle Alcohol Detection

The funding would to be appropriated out of the Highway Trust Fund.

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A new bill has been introduced that would provide funding to the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of a collaborative research effort to prevent drunk driving injuries and fatalities.

According to the bill, “An estimated 59,000 lives and $343,000,000,000 could be saved over a 15-year period by the widespread installation of alcohol detection technologies in motor vehicles.”

The Act, the "Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-Related Fatalities Everywhere Act of 2015," or the "ROADS SAFE Act of 2015," is currently assigned to a congressional committee that will consider it before potentially sending it on to the House or Senate.

Tom Udall (D), Senior Senator from New Mexico is the sponsor of the bill. He introduced the bill on June 25. Nita Lowey (D), Representative for New York's 17th congressional district is sponsoring an identical bill, which she referred to Committee on July 13th.

The NHTSA Administrator would complete the research in order to “explore the feasibility and the potential benefits of, and the public policy challenges associated with, more widespread deployment of in-vehicle technology to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.”

While such technology has already been developed by multiple companies, the legality of requiring it in vehicles remains in question.

The bill adds that the technology will not be “widely accepted by the public” unless it is moderately priced, absolutely reliable, and set at a level that would not stop a driver whose blood alcohol content is less than the legal limit (0.08% or greater, although “such other percentage limitation as may be established by applicable Federal, State, or local law.”)

The bill is seeking $6,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2016 and 2017; $8,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2018 and 2019; and $10,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The funding would to be appropriated out of the Highway Trust Fund.

According to the bill has an 8% chance of getting past committee, and a 2% chance of being enacted. Factors leading to this conclusion include the bill’s sponsors’ status as a minority party member and its correlation with previously unsuccessful bills.

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