Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) – Development of the Subsystem Performance Specifications

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) began research in February 2008 to try to find potential in-vehicle approaches to the problem of alcohol-impaired driving. Members of ACTS comprise motor vehicle manufacturers representing approximately 99 percent of light vehicle sales in the U.S. This cooperative research partnership, known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program, seeks to develop technologies that are less intrusive than the current in-vehicle breath alcohol measurement devices. Detection technology must be seamless (passive) with the driving task. It also must be able to quickly and accurately measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in a non-invasive manner. These technologies will be a component of a system that may deter the vehicle from being driven when the device registers that the driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit. Such devices ultimately must be compatible with mass-production at a moderate price, be durable, meet high levels of reliability, and require no maintenance. Therefore, the performance standards for the adoption of these devices among the general public, many of whom do not drink, let alone drink and drive, must be much more rigorous if they are to cause minimal inconvenience, and must deter the vehicle from being driven when the device registers that the driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit (currently 0.08 g/dL throughout the United States).

To assess these technologies, detailed performance specifications were developed. The specifications were designed to focus the current and future development of relevant emerging and existing advanced alcohol detection technologies. In addition to requirements for a high level of accuracy and very fast time for measurement, the influences of environment, issues related to user acceptance, long-term reliability, and system maintenance are also addressed. The resulting list of specifications with definitions, measurement requirements, and acceptable performance levels are documented in the DADSS Subsystem Performance Specification Document1 . The accuracy and speed of measurement requirements adopted by the DADSS Program are much more stringent than currently available commercial alcohol measurement technologies are capable of achieving. Translating that to appropriate performance specifications was approached by calculating the potential for inconvenience if reliability, accuracy, and time for measurement were set at various levels.