In 2008 Almost 350 New Yorkers Were Killed By Drunk Drivers; Thirty-One Percent of Young Drivers Killed in Crashes Were Over the Legal LimitROADS SAFE Act would Fund the Research and Development of Vehicle Technologies to Fight Drunk DrivingSchumer: Drunk Driving Claiming Too Many Lives in NY, Time for a Fresh Approach

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is pushing legislation to foster research and development of incar technology to fight the scourge of drunk driving. This legislation will create a consortium to drastically curb drunk driving by funding a partnership between antidrunk driving advocates, large car companies and the federal government to design devices that prevent intoxicated people from getting behind the wheel. During a conference call, Schumer said that drunk driving kills thousands of people across the country every year and hundreds of people in New York - many of them teens - but only 2% of drunk drivers are caught.  Schumer is a cosponsor of the legislation, which is sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (DNM) and Senator Bob Corker (DTN).
"Drunk drivers kill hundreds of New Yorkers each year, and far too few are caught and far too many are repeat offenders," said Schumer.  "It's time to take a more common sense approach to this problem, and stop drunk driving before it even starts, so that our teenagers are not given the opportunity to make the decision, and our families aren't put at risk by irresponsible drivers."
"MADD is honored to have Senator Chuck Schumer as a sponsor of the ROADS SAFE Act," said MADD National President Laura DeanMooney. "ROADS SAFE will lead to the elimination of drunk driving in America by ensuring that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher cannot drive drunk.  With the development of this technology, horrific crashes such as the one on the Taconic Parkway last July that killed eight people including four children, and the tragic crash that killed 11 year old Leandra Rosado and injured six other children on the Henry Hudson Parkway will one day be a thing of the past."
The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcoholrelated Fatalities Everywhere (ROADS SAFE) Act, would authorize $12 million in annual funding for five years for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program to develop invehicle technology to prevent drunk driving. NHTSA and DADSS would use the funding to explore a variety of emerging technologies designed to reduce drunk driving crashes.
This new approach would bring together the government, nonprofits and car companies to form a consortium. The consortium would be tasked with developing new technologies that would curb drunk driving in a way that protects Americans on the road and allows car manufacturers to produce  high quality vehicles. Under the program, the technologies explored would include devices that determine a driver's blood alcohol level by touching the steering wheel or engine start button, as well as sensors that passively monitor a driver's breath or eye movements. If the sensors indicate that the driver's blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, the vehicle would not start stopping a drunk driver before their vehicle gets on the road and endangers others.  
This legislation does not require this technology to be installed in any car, but it will give law enforcement and parents a new tool.  For example, a judge could require a repeat offender to have a monitor installed in his or her car.  A parent could purchase one of the steering wheels to be installed on the family car as they are teaching their teenager to drive or on a car they are sending off to college with a recent high school grad.  The scourge of drunk driving in New York has continued to plague families and communities across the state. Currently, New York ranks in the top 10 in the country for alcohol related driving deaths.  In 2008 alone, 472 fatalities in New York were caused by drivers that tested positive for alcohol, and 395 of those were above the legal limit.  Here is a breakdown from across the state from 20042008:
o    In the Capital Region, 168 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In Western New York, 179 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In the RochesterFinger Lakes Region, 195 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In Central New York, 158 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In the Southern Tier, 156 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In the Hudson Valley, 280 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In the North Country, 133 people died in drunk driving accidents.
o    In Long Island, 349 people died in drunk driving accidents.
Schumer and MADD CEO Chuck Hurley said that this is a particularly important time of the year to raise awareness regarded drunk driving as prom season approaches.  Each year, dozens of teens are killed in alcohol related incidents driving to or from prom.  The bipartisan ROADS SAFE Act was sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (DNM) and Senator Bob Corker (RTN) and is supported by a wide range of organizations representing automakers and advocates for the prevention of drunk driving, including:

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
American Academy of Pediatrics
The Century Council
Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS)
General Motors
Governors Highway Safety Association
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
National Safety Council 
Nationwide Insurance
Safe Kids USA

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