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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Toyota Developing a Fail-Safe Alcohol Detection System

Sensors Would Automatically Shut Down Vehicle if Presence of Excessive Alcohol is Detected

An alcohol detection system that automatically shuts the vehicle down if its sensors detect an excessive amount of alcohol is being developed by Toyota Motor Corporation, the No. 2 ranked auto manufacturer.

According to a report in the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, if sweat sensors embedded in the steering wheel identify high levels of alcohol in the driver's bloodstream, the detection system will prevent the vehicle from starting. The system could also be activated if the sensors detect irregular steering, or if a special camera perceives that the driver's pupils are unfocused. The system would slowly bring the vehicle to a halt.

Toyota plans to fit their vehicles with the system by 2010.

A second Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan Motor Co., has also been developing a device, similar to a breathalyzer, which could detect the presence of excessive alcohol consumption. Similar alcohol-ignition interlock technologies are already employed in the U.S. and several other countries.

Following a series of alcohol-related accidents in Japan over the past 12 months, there has been a heightened concern about drunk driving. A vehicle carrying a family of five was thrust off a bridge when a drunk driver collided with their vehicle in August. Three children were killed. As a result, there has been a major increase in roadside spot checks by police, and legislators plan to make penalties for drunken driving much harsher.

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