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Drunk driving technology may lower Montana fatalities

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in 2015 alone 92 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Montana. This totals 40.2 percent of all traffic deaths in the state that year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in some categories like age and gender, Montana has fatality rates three to four times higher than the national average. Despite these higher than normal numbers, MADD reports that Montana has few laws that are designed to reduce the occurrence of these accidents. Until the state updates its DUI laws, Montana residents may be able to use new technology to stay safer while on the state’s roadways.

According to The Verge, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has called for researchers to hasten their work on alcohol-detection systems to keep all drivers, whether or not they have been convicted of a DUI, from using a vehicle while intoxicated. Instead of breathalyzers locking out the ignition, these systems would be unobtrusive and simply involve drivers placing their hands on the wheel and pressing a button. The system would detect the amount of alcohol in a driver’s body through sensors on the steering column, from their breath, or both. Unlike current safety systems to prevent drunk driving, the NHTSA hopes that these features will become standard on all new cars in the near future.

Another safety system that the administration would like to become standard fare on the roads is collision detection devices. These systems can warn drivers prior to impact, engage the brake system and even maneuver a vehicle away from danger in some situations. This can help reduce the severity of a crash and thus may save lives. While these collision detection systems are not currently available on much more than high-end vehicles, the NHTSA believes they could have a dramatic impact on the rate of traffic fatalities if they were made standard equipment on all new vehicles.

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