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CR comments to NHTSA on advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology (ANPRM)

Consumer Reports (CR), the independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan member organization, welcomes the opportunity to comment on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology. 

This technology, which would restrict vehicle operation if a driver is impaired, has immense potential to make U.S. roads safer. In particular, the technology would greatly reduce and potentially even eliminate drunk driving, which has harmed many millions of people nationwide. Drivers who are drunk or otherwise impaired pose a danger to everyone who uses the road. Prevention—stopping this dangerous driving before it happens—is vitally important.

In 2021, Congress directed NHTSA to issue a federal rule by November 15, 2024, requiring all new passenger vehicles to be equipped with technology that can passively and accurately detect when driver blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above 0.08, monitor driver performance to detect whether the driver is impaired, or both; and also prevent or limit vehicle operation accordingly. The technology would need to be effective, and it would work in the background, meaning that drivers would not be required to do anything extra or change how they use their car. Auto manufacturers would be required under the law to build the technology into all new passenger vehicles at a date to be determined two to three years after the rule becomes final. Eventually, as the U.S. vehicle fleet turns over, every car on the road would be built to prevent drunk and impaired driving. 

CR strongly supported enactment of this provision, and now we are urging NHTSA to move expeditiously to develop performance requirements. NHTSA should ensure that all new passenger vehicles must come equipped with an effective system that will save lives. Importantly, such a system should be used solely for crash prevention, and should be designed and built to inherently protect consumers’ privacy and minimize security vulnerabilities.

In the following sections, we share CR’s comments on information that NHTSA has requested and convey our recommendations for how NHTSA might optimally implement the requirements for advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology. We dedicate particular focus to areas on which CR has significant testing and/or policy expertise, including direct, largely camera-based driver monitoring systems (DMS); warnings and interventions in response to driver inattention or disengagement; and consumer data privacy and security.

For the full comments, click here.