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Can technology address the drunk driving problem?

Many people in California are deeply concerned about the dangers of drunk driving. The horrific effects of drunk driving crashes have helped prompt widespread public awareness campaigns as well as increased law enforcement attention to the problem. Still, the cost remains significant. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that 30 people are killed every day in collisions linked to driving under the influence. In 2017 alone, 10,874 people lost their lives across the country due to drunk drivers. This has led some automakers to look for innovative solutions to crack down on drunk driving.

Volvo Cars announced that it plans to introduce a system into its cars beginning in the early 2020s that will provide a technological response to drunk driving. The semi-autonomous technology will be able to steer the car to safety in case a drunk driver is detected behind the wheel. The technology will rely on sensors and cameras inside the car to look for signs of intoxicated driving or serious distraction. Some such signs could include a driver with eyes closed for a long period or one who fails to provide any input at the steering wheel.

Before taking action, the system would produce warning alarms. If the driver failed to respond to the alarm, the system would kick in. It could take actions as simple as slowing down the car from a dangerous speed or even pull the vehicle over to park on the side of the road. Volvo executives said that the technology was designed to avoid severe car accidents caused by dangerous drivers behind the wheel.

Every day, people are killed or severely injured in motor vehicle collisions linked to drunk driving. A personal injury lawyer may be able to work with accident victims to pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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