Senator introduces bill to block rule on impaired-driving prevention technology

WASHINGTON — A Republican senator is trying to repeal a provision in infrastructure legislation passed by Congress last year that would require a passive technology to prevent drunk or impaired drivers from starting their vehicles.

The infrastructure law orders NHTSA to issue final rules by November 2024, requiring new vehicles to be equipped with advanced drunken-driving and impaired-driving prevention technology. Once the rules are issued, automakers will have two to three years to implement the technology as standard equipment in all new light-duty cars and trucks.

Sen. Mike Rounds, RD. – who previously sought to block the provision before the bill went into effect in November – introduced legislation Wednesday to amend the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and reverse the requirement. Rounds is supported by Bill Censor Mike Braun, R-Ind., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Automotive News has reached out to three senators for comment.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving slammed Rounds’ attempt to reverse the measure, calling it “non-advice legislation” that would result in “thousands of preventable deaths and injuries each year.”

MADD national president Alex Otte said it is unclear why the rounds oppose the requirement and where the push is coming from.

“We know they filed an amendment last year before the IIJA was passed, and it did not proceed,” she said in an emailed statement. Automotive News, “It is surprising that he would act against something with the potential to end drunk driving, especially when drunk driving deaths have increased in South Dakota and alcohol accounts for 35 percent of all traffic deaths in his state. which is higher than the national average by 30 per cent.”

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Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said Thursday that her group “strongly opposes” the Rounds bill and that it “would stifle progress toward requiring this life-saving technology as standard equipment.”

Alcohol-induced driving deaths account for about a third of all highway deaths in the US each year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, alcohol-detection systems that prevent bad driving can save more than 9,400 lives annually.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association that represents most major automakers, said last year that the industry has long been committed to supporting public and private efforts to address alcohol-impaired driving. .

For its part, the industry is working with NHTSA to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Technology, which features a breath- and touch-based system for measuring a driver’s blood-alcohol level.

“We appreciate the efforts of Congressional leaders and other stakeholders to advance a legislative approach that gives NHTSA the ability to review all potential technologies as an alternative to federal regulation,” said Coalition CEO John Bozzella. had said before the infrastructure bill was enacted in August 2021. law.

In June, an independent group made up of auto safety experts and consumer advocates was formed to assist in the development of a passive technology that could prevent drunk or impaired drivers from starting their vehicles.

The Technical Working Group is co-chaired by MADD’s Chief Government Affairs Officer Stephanie Manning and former NHTSA Associate Administrator Jeffrey Michaels.

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