One part of the $1 trillion infrastructure package, hailed by President Joe Biden as a “monumental step forward for the nation,” is a new requirement for automakers to find a technological tool to prevent drunk driving.
“Under the legislation, monitoring systems to stop intoxicated drivers would roll out in all new vehicles as early as 2026, after the Transportation Department assesses the best form of technology to install in millions of vehicles and automakers are given time to comply,” reported The Associated Press.
Alex Otte, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, described the legislation as “monumental,” and the “single most important legislation” in the group’s history that marks “the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”
“It will virtually eliminate the No. 1 killer on America’s roads,” she added.
As CNET noted, “The Department of Transportation will first need to work out the best solution to the mandate and provide automakers ample time to comply with the new rule. If the department doesn’t finalize any rules in 10 years, it’ll need to report back to Congress on the hurdles for reevaluation.”
According to CNET, “the rules should be ready within three years, with a two-year period for automakers to get onboard and install future tech to prevent drunk driving.”
On Monday, Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg promoted the legislation during a White House briefing.
“I can tell you, in the 10 months that I’ve been in this job, I’ve traveled the country and seen the state of our infrastructure firsthand. I saw mesh nets hung under bridges to catch pieces of concrete that fall off from time to time; century-old tunnels corroded by seawater that hundreds of thousands of people depend on every day; roads where community members are installing memorials to lives lost in preventable traffic crashes; highways that have cut communities in two,” he said. “Infrastructure is so elemental to our society that when it’s not there to serve us in the right way, all of us are impacted. But when it is — when it’s strong — every community — large and small, rural and urban, privileged and marginalized — every community feels the benefits.”
“Prompt action must be taken on comprehensive, commonsense and confirmed solutions to steer our nation toward zero crash fatalities,” said president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase. “Proven solutions are at hand; it’s time to take action.”
As the Associated Press explained, “The department said Tuesday it will release a ‘safe system approach’ to road safety in January that identifies safety action for drivers, roads, vehicles, speeds and post-crash medical care, stressing a need to move deliberately to ensure ‘sustained’ improvements.”
“These aren’t just numbers; these are family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and fellow Americans — and tragically and disproportionately, black, brown and Native American,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “It’s not acceptable the level of deaths that we’re seeing on American highways right now.”
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