MDOT MVA completes pilot program to collect data from road tests for alcohol detection technology

GLEN BURNEY, Maryland (June 23, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT MVA) recently completed its participation in a pilot technology program designed to help disabled drivers stay out of the way. The program, run in partnership with the Driven to Protect initiative, collected road data to help improve alcohol detection technology that can be installed in future vehicles to make our roads safer.

The driver’s alcohol-safe safety program, largely funded by the federal government, seeks to develop devices that will automatically detect when a driver is intoxicated with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. credit: Driver’s alcohol detection system for safety program

Driven to Protect is a public-private partnership between the state and supporters of a new system for detecting alcohol in the breath, known as the Driver’s Alcohol Detection System for a safety program. The program works by measuring the level of alcohol in the driver’s breath while exhaling naturally. Small sensors built into the vehicle’s panels analyze the molecules of respiration using infrared light. If the driver’s breath alcohol level is above a certain range, the car will not move. The sensor is programmable, from a zero tolerance policy for teenage drivers to a breath alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the legal limit.

In 2019, this technology was installed in eight MDOT MVA vehicles, including a demonstration vehicle that was used as an educational tool at safety and community events. The road pilot program provided valuable information on how the technology withstands daily wear and tear, changes over time and other elements.

“Maryland has always taken a comprehensive approach to dealing with highway safety,” said MDOT MVA administrator Chrissy Naiser, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s representative on road safety. “We are committed to ending preventable deaths on our roads by influencing behavior change, focusing on road design and supporting the development of life-saving technology.

At the end of the pilot program, MDOT MVA vehicles collected 93,558 samples in 5,230 hours – although the program was suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data will help the manufacturer better understand the wear and tear factors that affect sensor performance and will help improve future iterations of prototype sensors.

“Our MDOT MVA team is constantly advocating for ways to save the lives of Marylanders and travelers across the country,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports Jr. “This pilot program has led to real-world data showing how these sensors withstand daily wear and tear. I am proud of the role of MDOT MVA in another effort to promote highway safety. ”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities in the United States are related to drunk drivers. This equates to an average of more than 10,000 people each year. Maryland has an average of more than 500 deaths each year, one-third of which is due to difficulty driving.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, the application of alcohol detection technology can save approximately 9,400 lives a year. The driver’s alcohol detection system research program is supported by the Automotive Coalition for Road Safety, which represents the world’s leading car manufacturers, as well as NHTSA and MDOT.

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