December 12, 2023 | Washington, DC
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken the first step toward making impaired-driving prevention technology standard in new passenger vehicles. The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that NHTSA is announcing today helps fulfill a requirement in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and supports the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.
This notice helps lay the groundwork for potential alcohol-impairment detection technology standards in all new passenger vehicles when the technology is mature. This announcement comes as NHTSA kicks off its annual holiday season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired-driving campaign, raising awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of death on our nation’s roads. In 2021, the latest data available, 13,384 people were killed in drunk driving crashes.
The negative economic and societal costs of impaired driving are enormous. NHTSA estimates that fatalities, injuries, and property damage from alcohol-impaired driving cost our society $280 billion in lost wages, lost quality of life, medical costs, and so much more. Impaired driving prevention technology is an action identified in the National Roadway Safety Strategy to significantly reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways in support of our vision of zero traffic deaths through vehicle features that promote driver safety and align with the principles of a safe system approach.
“It is tragic that drunk driving crashes are one of the leading causes of roadway fatalities in this country and far too many lives are lost,” said Polly Trottenberg, the U.S Department of Transportation’s Deputy Secretary. “The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking we are announcing today is the first step toward a new safety standard requiring alcohol-impaired-driving prevention technology in new passenger vehicles. I want to applaud the NHTSA team, elected officials and advocates who helped get us to today and will continue to help lay the groundwork on this issue.”
“Impaired driving crashes are 100% preventable – there’s simply no excuse or reason to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs. We urge everyone to be responsible this holiday season. If you’ve had anything to drink, use public transportation, arrange for a sober driver, or call a taxi or ride-hailing service and get home safely,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator.
This ANPRM will help gather information about the state of technology to detect impaired driving, about how to deploy technology safely and effectively, and will provide other information to further the agency’s work as the research and technology advances to the level to develop a standard to prevent driver impairment.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directs NHTSA to issue a final rule establishing a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that requires new passenger vehicles to have “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.” The law says that NHTSA should issue a new regulation only if it meets the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which states that a proposed standard must be reasonable, practicable, and reduce traffic crashes and associated deaths, among other factors.
Crashes and fatalities from impaired driving are completely preventable, yet alcohol-impaired fatalities in the month of December hit a nearly 15-year high in 2021. The holiday season is an especially deadly time, with more than 1,000 people killed in drunk driving crashes in December 2021 alone.
To continue to educate drivers throughout the holiday season, NHTSA will be promoting the following messages: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI. The campaign is supported by a $14 million national media buy, which includes TV, radio, and digital ads in English and Spanish. The agency is also debuting new English and Spanish TV advertisements focusing on alcohol-impaired driving.
As part of high-visibility enforcement efforts, law enforcement officers nationwide will be going the extra mile in their communities from December 13 through January 1 to get impaired drivers off the roads, with efforts such as sobriety checkpoints and community outreach.
Driving impaired by any substance – alcohol or other drugs, whether the substance is legal or illegal – is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To prevent unnecessary tragedies, NHTSA urges everyone to plan ahead, especially when celebrating the holidays, and to never drive drunk or high. Instead, designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or call a ride-hailing service or taxi – many communities have sober ride programs available during the holidays. Anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road should call 911.