The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, program is a collaborative research partnership between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), representing 17 automobile manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to assess and develop alcohol-detection technologies to prevent vehicles from being driven when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. From its inception, the DADSS program has been, and continues to be, working toward a voluntary, non-regulatory countermeasure to reduce drunk driving. The purpose is to explore the feasibility, the potential benefits of, and the potential challenges associated with a more widespread use of in-vehicle technology to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.
The research program began in 2008 with the goal of assessing the effectiveness and feasibility of alcohol-detection technologies. The program is now in Phase II, with planning underway for Phase III.
- Phase I – Research and analysis of two different technological approaches to measuring driver alcohol levels - a touch-based approach allowing assessment of alcohol in human tissue and a breath-based approach allowing assessment of alcohol concentration in the driver’s exhaled breath focused on speed, accuracy and precision. Completed 2011.
- Phase II – Additional Research and testing of touch-based and breath-based sensors to improve accuracy and precision performance, and decrease measurement time to meet or exceed DADSS performance specifications. The prototypes will then be installed in a research vehicle. This phase is expected to be completed late 2014.
- Phase III – Phase III and subsequent phases of research will permit further refinement of the technology and test instruments as well as basic and applied research to understand human interaction with the sensors both physiologically and ergonomically – that is, how these technologies might operate in a vehicle environment.
Note: ACTS developed stringent DADSS Performance Requirements stipulating very high levels of accuracy and precision, as well as a very fast measurement time as part of the research program to ensure that the technologies would be unobtrusive and not pose any potential inconvenience to sober drivers.
While the technology is estimated to have the potential to save thousands of lives per year, the research is still in the early phases of development. In order to be considered for widespread deployment, the DADSS technology must be seamless, accurate, and precise, and unobtrusive to the sober driver. It must also be proven reliable to be installed in the vehicle fleet and publically favorable.