How the Internet of Things Will Reduce DUIs in the Future
The California Office of Traffic Safety identified alcohol-related motor collisions as the most fatal in Orange County, with nearly 2,000 injured or killed by drink drivers in 2014 alone. Throughout the state, drink driving accounted for over one-third of all traffic fatalities and claimed a total of 1,053 lives in that same year.
Even more sobering, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that 28 people die in alcohol-related crashes daily in the United States. One life is lost due to a DUI violation every 51 minutes.
In light of this issue, Orange County has a three-point approach to limiting cases of driving under the influence. The first is to deploy policemen in DUI checkpoints across districts and making rounds to apprehend drunk drivers. The county is also training committed prosecutors to persuade juries to convict drunk drivers and deter would-be offenders. Lastly, schools and universities within Orange County are promoting DUI prevention to its faculty and students.
Because of these measures, the numbers have decreased in the past decade, from alcohol-related fatalities amounting to 1,643, or 40 percent of all motor fatalities, in 2004. For many experts on the matter, however, the numbers are not dropping fast enough.
Today, with advancements in technology, scientists are now looking at building safer and smarter cities through the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT, or technology that links devices to each other through the internet, can fundamentally transform our way of life. Scientists are beginning to utilize IoT to create solutions for a wide variety of problems – everything from health and retail, to environmental conservation and, of course, transportation.
Across the globe, companies and governments are learning how to use the technology to improve road safety and address long-standing issues. For instance, Information Age shares that community-based IoT-powered parking in Stuttgart, Germany uses on-board sensors that detect and measure available parking spots in the city. The data gathered by these sensors are then shown on a real-time map on cars within the area. This technology allows drivers to minimize the time wasted when driving around to look for parking.
Closer to home, IoT developments are looking to support existing laws and initiatives to improve road safety. A case in point: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ruled in 2015 that commercial drivers must always have an Electronic Logging Device (ELD), to prevent drivers from accidentally or deliberately exceeding their Hours of Service (HoS). This new regulation, set to be fully implemented by the end of this year, is aimed at reducing road accidents caused by tired commercial drivers working in excess of their required HoS.
Under the FMCSA rule, the ELD replaces old paper logging systems with fixed-mount devices or smart device apps, which will need to be connected to the trucking vehicle to automatically record its journey. Fleetmatics indicated that the system can warn drivers when they are approaching their required HoS and automatically update the electronic logs of management. As a result, ELD-assisted operations and businesses are able to minimize cases of driver fatigue, which is proven to significantly increase risks of traffic incidents.
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that tech specialists are further developing Ignition Interlock Devices (IID), which measure blood alcohol levels from a driver’s breath. If the driver fails the test, the system prevents the car from starting its ignition, effectively preventing the driver from DUI and lessening road safety risks. It’s now used in more than 11 states, including California. But to make them more advanced, the concept is also being explored through touch sensors, which could measure alcohol levels from beneath the skin’s surface through an infrared light scanner.
It may take a while before these technologies and further developments can be installed in all vehicles in Orange County. But with continued research and vigilant community support, it’s only a matter of time before smarter cities with safer roads are established.
Exclusively written for Orangecountyduilawyer.com