Drunk driving accidents in California and around the country claimed 11,000 lives and left 200,000 road users injured in 2017, and advocacy groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving are calling on carmakers to step in and do what lawmakers and public awareness campaigns have failed to accomplish. Intoxicated drivers remain the leading cause of road fatalities in the United States, but these groups believe that autonomous safety systems and devices that prevent vehicles from operating when drivers have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher could eliminate the threat they pose.
Dozens of states including California require drivers convicted of DUI offenses to fit ignition interlocks in their vehicles. These devices work in much the same way as the breath testing equipment used by police officers, and they prevent vehicles from starting when alcohol is detected. Carmakers are said to be working on both breath and touch-based systems that work in the same way and could be offered as optional or standard equipment on new vehicles. Figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggest that as many as 7,000 lives could be saved each year if every car was fitted with such a system.
Autonomous driving technology also offers a possible solution to the drunk driving problem. Volvo has announced that it is working on a system that would monitor drivers and pull their cars over automatically when signs of impairment or extreme fatigue are detected. Fully autonomous vehicles would take human beings out of the equation entirely, and several manufacturers are currently engaged in a race to introduce the first completely self-driving car.
Establishing negligence and liability in car accident lawsuits is often quite straightforward when a drunk driver is involved, but recovering damages may be far more challenging. This is because intoxicated motorists are frequently killed in the crashes they cause, and those who survive are sometimes prosecuted and sent to prison for years. However, this does not mean that accident victims have no remedies available. When the individuals who injured their clients are incarcerated or deceased, experienced personal injury attorneys may initiate legal proceedings against their automobile insurance companies or their estates.