Driven to Protect Virginia announces deployment of alcohol detection technology
The Virginia DMV, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and Schneider have announced a collaboration that will make Schneider the first truckload carrier to conduct a trial deployment of lifesaving technology developed through the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program.
Since 2018, the Driven to Protect Initiative, a public-private partnership between the Virginia DMV and the DADSS Program, has been helping to test in-vehicle alcohol detection technology that will determine if a driver is impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above the applicable legal limit in the Commonwealth — and prevent the vehicle from moving.
“Virginians should be proud of our state’s leadership in public safety and technology innovation,” said Virginia DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “The progress we have made since 2018 has advanced this game-changing anti-drunk driving technology, and I am excited to see how this new deployment will bring the technology one step closer to saving countless lives on our roadways.”
Schneider is the first truckload carrier to work with the DADSS Program — marking a new milestone toward widespread deployment of in-vehicle alcohol detection technology. An industry leader and innovator in truck safety technology, Schneider implemented speed limiters in the 1980s and has continued to be an early adopter of other safety technology such as stability control systems, electronic logging devices, collision mitigation systems and forward- and side-mounted video cameras.
“Safety comes first at Schneider, always, and we believe in going above and beyond industry standards. We look forward to the opportunity to pilot groundbreaking safety technology developed to help save lives,” said Schneider Vice President of Safety, Driver Training and Compliance Tom DiSalvi. “We know our team of professional drivers will embrace this technology because, just as with previous safety enhancements, they will be part of a solution that will make our highways safer.”
As part of this new trial deployment, Schneider will outfit eight of their cabs with the latest breath sensors in 2022, logging more than 100,000 sensor miles for each vehicle outfitted, for a collective total of almost one million miles. This pilot will help refine the technology by increasing the stress that the system is put under on the road, exponentially increasing the number of miles driven and exposing the system to new drivers and a wider range of environmental conditions — all key to the DADSS Program’s quest to commercialize fully passive vehicle-integrated breath technology.
The effort builds upon the Virginia DMV’s ongoing partnership with Virginia-based James River Transportation through the Driven to Protect Initiative, which was the first time the breath sensors were tested as part of in-vehicle, on-road test trials involving light passenger vehicles.
The DADSS technology suite remains widely accepted as the most promising and expedient pathway to prevent drunk driving fatalities on a large scale. Last month, Congress demonstrated its commitment to advanced technology solutions by including them in the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which lays out a process for deploying advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.
DADSS technology, once commercially available, could drastically reduce the number of drunk driving deaths in Virginia and across the United States. According to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), when widely deployed in all vehicles, such an alcohol detection system could help eliminate the number one cause of fatalities on U.S. roadways and save more than 9,000 lives each year. Last year, Virginia alone reported 6,624 alcohol-related crashes, 272 alcohol-related fatalities and 3,386 alcohol-related injuries on its roadways.
“With Virginia’s support, the DADSS technology has gone from an early prototype to a viable safety feature for all vehicles in the future, much like seat belts and airbags,” said Rob Strassburger, President and CEO of ACTS.
Through Driven to Protect, Virginia continues to put the health and safety of its residents first by educating the next generation about responsible driving behavior and by advancing technology that can prevent additional drunk driving crashes, injuries, and deaths on its roads. In 2020, with partners including the Virginia Department of Education, Driven to Protect developed a virtual platform — the Driven to Protect Discovery Hub — to educate students about safe driving and the science behind the DADSS technology. Through these efforts, Driven to Protect has helped build awareness, acceptance and demand for this lifesaving technology among Virginians — bringing us one step closer to a world without drunk driving.