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Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Car Accident > Are Cars Smart Enough To Save Drunk Drivers From Themselves?

Are Cars Smart Enough To Save Drunk Drivers From Themselves?


In the 1990s, public service announcements used to encourage social drinkers to appoint a designated driver for occasions where a group of friends consumed alcohol at a bar or party.  The designated driver could have one alcoholic beverage at the beginning of the evening but then switch to non-alcoholic drinks for the rest of the night so that, when it was time to drive home, they could transport themselves and their tipsy friends to safety.  Designated drivers were encouraged to stop their friends from driving by whatever means the dictates of friendship would allow, up to and including wrestling the car keys from an inebriated buddy’s hands.  Cars are arguably better suited to the role of designated driver, especially with all the upgrades to their intelligence that have taken place in the past decade or so.  What if a car, sensing the presence of liquid courage behind the wheel, could simply refuse to budge?  Not only is it possible for cars to prevent drunk driving, but the law may someday require them to do so, and it could happen sooner than you think.  If you have been injured by a drunk driver, contact a Columbia car accident lawyer.

Cars Are Safer Than Ever, but Drunk Driving Is Just as Dangerous as Always

Despite all advances in vehicle safety, the seatbelt is still the safest safety feature, followed by the airbag.  If a seatbelt keeps you from being ejected from the car during a collision, and airbags cushion the impact, the rest is just details.  Meanwhile, vehicle manufacturers have added features to alert drivers to collision hazards, in order to enable them to react in time, preventing collisions instead of just reducing the severity of collision-related injuries.  Overall, there are fewer traffic fatalities than there were in the pre-seatbelt area.

Meanwhile, drunk driving causes a disproportionate number of fatal car accidents.  The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) in South Carolina is 0.08 percent; anything beyond that is drunk driving.  More than two thirds of fatal car accidents in the United States in 2019 involved a driver whose BAC was at least 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

Automobiles Against Drunk Driving: Past, Present, and Future

Currently, cars warn you of all kinds of collision hazards, and some even brake on their own when doing so would avoid a collision, so they are already taking some steps toward saving drunk drivers from themselves.  Congress is considering requiring auto manufacturers to outfit cars with technologies that could test the driver’s BAC before the car’s engine turns on, similar to the ignition interlock devices attached to the vehicles of people convicted of DUI.  The devices will need to be highly accurate, or else they will be very unpopular.  When the evidence became incontrovertible that seatbelts save lives, there was some discussion of designing cars that refuse to move until the driver buckles up, but these plans were scrapped because they were so unpopular with the public.

Contact Us Today for Help

A personal injury lawyer can help you get the money you need for treatment of injuries resulting from an accident with a drunk driver.  Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.



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