Honda plans to test drivers for alcohol levels before entering the car

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Hitachi and Honda said they successfully developed a prototype of a portable breath-based alcohol detection device for vehicle smart keys.

Authorities around the world are increasing their efforts to prevent or stop drunk drivers to take the wheel, supporting the on-going progress in safe driving technology. In Japan, for example, transportation operators are required to use an alcohol detector to test whether professional drivers are under the influence of alcohol before they begin their shifts. Meanwhile, in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched and directed the development of ignition interlock technology that connects alcohol detectors to a vehicle’s engine. The well-known IT and electronics company Hitachi worked with Honda’s R&D department to develop a prototype of a portable alcohol detector that can be integrated into the smart key. This device is capable of distinctively detecting the saturated water vapor from human breath and accurately measuring alcohol level within 3 seconds once a driver exhales breath onto the device.

They also created a system that can show the alcohol level measured by the detector on the vehicle’s display panel, thus transforming it into an ignition interlock to stop a car starting its engine when it detects a driver under the influence of alcohol. Honda says it mainly aims to reduce the temptation to drive, as drivers can measure their alcohol level from anywhere and, most important, prior to entering their vehicle.