Luján, Dingell Highlight Public Support for HALT Act, Recommendations to End Drunk and Impaired Driving

The lawmakers spearheaded the passage of anti-drunk and impaired driving legislation

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) highlighted new recommendations from the Technical Working Group on Advanced Impaired Driving Prevention Technology (TWG) for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new car safety standard that will prevent impaired driving.

The guidance, based on months of research by the TWG’s auto safety experts and consumer advocates, recommends incorporating comprehensive systems into cars that detect blood alcohol content along with driver monitoring technologies such as cameras and other sensors that will eventually detect impairment by other drugs, distracted and drowsy driving.

A new survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open shows that nearly 65% of Americans support the Luján-Dingell legislation that implements vehicle impairment prevention technology in all new vehicles. More than 63% also support the mandate from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to include this technology in all new cars.

During the 117th Congress, Senator Luján and Representative Dingell successfully secured inclusion of the HALT Act as a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed into law by President Biden. The legislation promotes the research and development of advanced drunk and impaired driving technology and requires auto manufacturers to implement this technology in new car models.

“After being hit head-on by a drunk driver many years ago, I was lucky to survive – but thousands of families each year are devastated by drunk and impaired driving crashes. I know how important it is to put an end to this crisis, and I know that there is much more we can right now toward achieving this goal,” said Senator Luján. “This JAMA survey makes it clear that a majority of Americans support these efforts to put an end to drunk and impaired driving. Now, with the guidance announced by the Technical Working Group, it’s critical that we make progress toward implementing the HALT Act and saving lives.”

“No community, and no family, should have to experience the devastation of losing a loved one to drunk driving. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) survey shows that the public agrees that we need to prevent these unnecessary tragedies by making impairment prevention technology standard in new vehicles – this technology will save lives. I am glad we are taking concrete steps toward making our roads safer, and welcome the recommendations made by the Technical Working Group and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to ensure that the HALT Act is implemented effectively, equitably, and efficiently,” said Representative Dingell.

“The JAMA report reinforces MADD’s strong belief that most people want to see advanced technology on new cars to prevent the senseless deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving,” said MADD CEO Stacey D. Stewart. “With historic increases in traffic deaths over the past three years, implementation of impaired driving prevention technology is urgently needed.”

“After a comprehensive review, we believe passive impaired driving prevention technology is an achievable requirement can prevent thousands of deaths and injuries on the road,” said TWG co-chairs Jeff Michael, Distinguished Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and former associate administrator at NHTSA, and Stephanie Manning, MADD’s Chief Government Affairs Officer. “The best driver impairment detection system will be capable of detecting a wide range of impairment types and reacting in a way that limits risk to everyone on the road, including the driver.”

Background: Based on research by the TWG’s auto safety experts and consumer advocates, the guidance recommends a path forward to meet the law’s 2024 deadline for USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to complete a rulemaking for the new safety standard. Auto makers would be required to build the technology into all new vehicles beginning in 2026-2027. Since this comprehensive system will take time to develop and test, the TWG recommends first addressing the most critical issue – driver alcohol impairment – in the short term and incentivizing further development to expand the prevention systems in subsequent years. The systems should both prevent cars from operating when drivers are alcohol-impaired and should warn drivers when other risky driving is detected.



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