Sober Traffic Tech: Moving at the Speed of Light.

Drunk driving kills. A lot. The US Dept. of Transportation says that “nearly 10,000 people” die each year due to motorists fueling their veins with alcohol. That’s about 27 US motorists every day. Not only that, but a DUI can cost you a pretty penny.Thankfully, tech industry innovators are on the case. Several auto companies, as well as independent startups, are giving users important tools to keep the roads safe and sober. Here are a few of these champions of transportation temperance.


Nissan is a leader in anti-drunk driving tech. The company believes in “enriching people’s lives” and taking traffic safety into account when designing their products. They’ve come up with some future concepts to work toward. Here’s what they’re up to:

  • Odor sensors. Nissan is working on sensors which detect the presence of alcohol in the vehicle. These sensors could presumably 1) shut down the car 2) verbally suggest the driver to stop and get some rest, or 3) alert the authorities that an intoxicated driver is behind the wheel.
  • Facial monitoring. This gadget would monitor the driver’s facial features, particularly eye movements, to gage the driver’s alertness. This could probably also work to detect overly sleepy drivers.
  • Erratic driving detector. The device would notice odd driving movement, like swerving and other sudden movements.

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Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS)

DADSS is a cross-disciplinary group with members from the automotive industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, medical providers, safety advocates, the alcohol industry, and more. Their goal: to get rid of drunk driving completely. Here’s some of what they’re working on:

  • Unobtrusive breath-detectors. This technology would do away with the need to awkward, traditional breathalyzers. Instead, the car would be able to detect alcohol in the breath without the driver having to do much of anything.
  • Touch systems. This would be incorporated into high-touch surfaces in the car. As soon as the driver’s finger made contact, the device would instantly make note of any alcohol in the blood.
  • Vehicle shut-down systems. Working in conjunction with the two aforementioned pieces of technology, this system would automatically shut the car down when the presence of too much alcohol is detected.


Breathaleyes is a tech company which was founded in order to create “a more convenient and available way for testing” blood alcohol levels. Unlike some of the other devices in this article, these folks already have their product on the market. And it’s pretty cheap! Here’s the deal:

  • HGN detection. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary eye movement which gets worse after consuming alcohol. With this mobile app, users can track their own eye movements to determine whether or not they’ve had too much.
    • Note: Breathaleyes may not be ideal for all users. Certain medical conditions may also cause HGN.
    • Note: Breathaleyes is not able to measure specific blood alcohol levels.

DrinkTracker Breathalyzer

This mobile app makes educated guesses about how much alcohol is in a user’s blood, based on what they’ve had to drink and in how much time. Think of it like MyFitnessPal for booze. Users enter what they’re drinking and how much time they’ve consumed it in. The app determines how much alcohol should be in the bloodstream, and estimates the rate at which it filters out.

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