The Future of Sober Driving May Be Upon Us…

Steering Wheel

Flickr User: johnrawlinson

Sober Steering Sensors is a Canadian company out of Ontario, Canada’s most densely populated province. The company is developing technology that makes use of chemical sensors built into steering wheels to detect the gas byproducts of alcohol through the skin of drivers. This transdermal technology, developed in conjunction with California-based Seacoast Science, has been garnering a lot of interest.

Other forms of car-controlled breathalyzers do currently exist, but these interlock systems require drivers to blow into a Breathalyzer before starting their car (an obvious change in driver behavior). If the breath test system registers alcohol above the legal limit, the vehicle will not start.

These systems currently being sold in the U.S. and around the world are visible interlock system devices. One that might exist in the family car creates an undeniable social stigma that not only the driver, but also the driver’s children and family, must deal with on a daily basis. One major problem with these visible interlock systems is that people won’t install them in their cars because of the social stigma associated with them.

Interlock devices have also been criticized because they require drivers to blow into the device before the car will start as well as after driving for a period of time, so drivers must be able to safely pull over and repeat the test when the machine tells them to. This isn’t practical or safe.

The Canadian groups’ device, Sober Steering Sensors, tests drivers through the steering wheel. Hence, so long as a person is driving (with their hands and not their knees), the system should be continually activated. The only requirement for the system to be able to test a person’s BAC is that a driver has his hands on the wheel (a normal driving behavior).

Sober Steering recently received $1.5 Million from the Ontario government’s Innovation Demonstration Fund to produce prototypes and test later them later this year in about 200 fleet vehicles, such as transport trucks and buses.

Ignition interlock systems are expensive, costing up to approximately $2,000 per vehicle, as opposed to an estimated $200 for the Sober Steering solution. Stay tuned for more updates about this new-age sober driving technology.

This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.