Australian-leading technology to help end drink driving

Published date: 12 Oct 2021

The Victorian Government has unveiled state-of-the-art road safety technology that could one day make it impossible for people to drink and drive.

In an Australian-first, the Victorian Government will conduct research on a prototype vehicle fitted with passive alcohol sensor (PAS) technology that can automatically analyses a driver’s breath for alcohol.

The Transport Accident Commission in partnership with the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Research Program, from the US, has brought the technology to Victoria to develop plans for a fleet trial.

Despite Victoria’s early successes in addressing the issue, drink driving remains a major factor in road trauma, contributing to around 19 per cent of fatalities on the state’s roads in the past five years.

The sophisticated PAS technology detects alcohol in a driver’s breath when they first enter the vehicle, which is significantly different from existing ignition interlocks and breathalysers.

The system is designed to take accurate readings in less than a second, is more precise and reliable than other alcohol detection technology, is contactless, and can determine whether or not a breath sample is from the driver.

Studies show that most Victorians know that drink driving is dangerous and would not intentionally do it, so unobtrusive technology that helps drivers stay within the legal limit is expected to be a welcome development.

The TAC and DADSS have developed the PAS demonstration vehicle to present the technology to the Victorian public, explore its life-saving potential and the possibility of a fleet trial.

Currently, an extensive process is needed to retrofit the technology to a vehicle but, in the future, the PAS system would be installed at the time of production, or as an after-market accessory option.

PAS is a key project to be delivered under the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030, which has a strong focus on preventing road trauma resulting from drink driving, on the way to halving road deaths and reducing injuries by 2030.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll

“We pride ourselves on being a leader in exploring emerging road safety technologies that can reduce injuries and save lives, like passive alcohol sensors.”

“Drink driving ruins too many lives and we owe it to everyone affected by such trauma to continue finding new ways to keep impaired drivers off our roads.”

Quotes attributable to Transport Accident Commission CEO Joe Calafiore

“Most Victorians see drink driving as unacceptable but still every week we have people become TAC clients, through death or injury, because of drink driving – we can’t accept that.”

“We know public education and enforcement are effective deterrents, but we must leverage new technology like passive alcohol sensors to stop drink driving before it happens and prevent tragedies.”

Find out more about passive alcohol sensor technology.


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