Congress Looks To Tackle Drunk Driving In Infrastructure Bill

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A new technology mandate within the highly-anticipated infrastructure bill could help significantly decrease the number of drunk driving deaths in America.

If passed, new cars would be required to be equipped with technology that could detect if a person has been drinking. It's just one of several road safety-related provisions within the sweeping infrastructure bill and advocates against drunk driving say it would help with a major problem in the country.

"This technology will essentially eliminate drunk driving," Alex Otte, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told The Washington Post.

More than 10,000 people died in car crashes where a drunk driver was behind the wheel in 2019, according to data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After years of being on the decline, the potential mandate could help assist the plateauing numbering of drunk driving-related deaths.

Other safety features included in the bill range from automatic braking for cars and large trucks, an updated system for rating vehicle safety, and in-car alerts to prevent children from being left in hot cars.

The bill is also looking to address the roads we drive on, providing funding for street designs that prioritize safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, too.

In 2020, Black Americans died in car accidents at higher rates than in previous years –– a grim trend caused by the pandemic and Black people making up higher proportions of the essential workforce that could not stay home during lockdown orders.

If passed, experts estimate that drunk driving deaths could decrease by 9,400 annually, though it could take years before we see the technology rolled out on a massive scale. Current timelines indicate the technology could be required as soon as 2026.

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