Companies Delve Into Anti-Drunk Driving Devices

Anti-drunk driving groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have advocated the installation of alcohol detection systems in vehicles. Several automobile manufacturers have announced intentions to develop such systems for their fleet. Now inventors and companies are racing to fill the growing market for devices that may prevent motorists from driving under the influence.

Recently Alcohol Countermeasure Systems, a Canadian company, announced it had struck a deal to install its Alcolock breathalyzer system in Volvo trucks. The effort goes into effect this year in Sweden and will be expanded to other Scandinavian countries in the near future. In a separate agreement, the company will begin providing alcohol detection devices for cars sold in Sweden in 2008.

The Swedish government is advocating installation of detection devices in all vehicles by 2012.

An alternative to a breathalyzer device is a sensor that can detect the presence of alcohol through the skin. One such system, called the Transdermal Steering Wheel Alcohol Sensor, is being developed by an inventor keen on capitalizing on the campaign to fight drunk driving. It has been reported that Toyota Motor Company is looking into a system that analyzes a driver’s blood alcohol content through sensors in the steering wheel. The sensors keep the car from being started if it detects a high level of alcohol.

The Transdermal Steering Wheel is currently being tested by KS Centoco Wheel, a large major steering wheel manufacturer near Detroit. A similar, competing system is being developed by Transbiotec of California.

Both the breathalyzer and sensor technologies have limitations and concerns. Industry experts envision new technologies being developed over the next decade. TruTouch Technologies, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been developing products based on infrared technology that detects glucose levels without relying on blood or breath tests. A stationary version of the detection system is currently in use, though an in-car system is not yet available.

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