Another application of touch-based optics technology is biometric identification. A biometric device could replace the key needed to start a vehicle and be used to set preferences for an individual driver, such as seat and mirror positions.
Law enforcement is familiar with fingerprint technology for linking evidence to suspects as well as access control. Anyone thinking about the traditional fingerprint technology needs to think deeper. Technology (multispectral imaging) exists to compare an individual's external fingerprint with the skin below (sometimes referred to as the internal fingerprint). By including infrared light, alcohol concentrations can be determined via the blood.
Installing a low-cost, easy-to-use biometric device (based on multispectral imaging technology) in a vehicle is probably three years away. Having a sensor that is both a biometric device and an alcohol sensor is probably another two years away, in other words, 2011.
After the symposium, attendees agreed to develop an alliance to look at the feasibility of developing and installing emerging, voluntary, non-regulatory technologies. MADD and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will lead the efforts of vehicle manufacturers, the technology industry and safety organizations.
While technology is being developed for use tomorrow, the time for using interlock programs, passive sensors and remote alcohol monitoring programs is now.
Because technology will not immediately eliminate drunk driving, an improved DUI criminal justice system, increased law enforcement efforts, maximum seat belt use and alternative transportation strategies also are needed. Using these strategies, MADD, looking to a more immediate future, aims to reduce drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent before 2008. Ultimately, the goal is a nation without drunk driving.
Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer, working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2005-DD-BX-K162 awarded by the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.