The car that knows if you’re over the limit

posted in: General News, Top Tips

Why the car of the future may (or may not) stop drunk driving for good.

Don't Drink and Drive Written on Road

Astonishingly, around 85,000 people in England and Wales are still convicted of drunk driving every year. In 2016 (the last year for which figures are available), 230 people were killed as a result of drink driving and 1,250 were seriously injured, an increase on 2012 figures.

Now it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that every car and van rental company expects its drivers to drive alcohol and drug-free, but there’s little we or anyone else can do to prevent a driver getting behind the wheel of one of our hire vans or cars whilst away from one of our depots and under the influence. But what if the car or van could do something about it?

Ai that knows when you’ve had enough

Already, some of our cars and vans will alert you if you are wandering out of your motorway lane. They might even brake if you’re about to crash. But Volvo has announced that by 2020, its cars (and presumably those of other motor manufacturers too) will be able to do far more.

As The Sunday Times reported, new Volvos will be able to sense erratic driving, slow reaction times, a lack of input and even closed eyes, and force the car to slow or even stop.

Under an obligation?

What’s interesting is that Volvo could introduce this now, but they want to start a conversation first. Is it right for a car to remove that decision from the driver? Is there an argument to say the car company is under an obligation to act, and that not to do so would in some way leave them complicit in the drunk driving? And as AI takes a step closer to taking complete control of the vehicle, is there a tipping point at which drivers place so much faith in their cars that the numbers of drunk drivers start to shoot up again?

At which point, we might find that anti-drunk driving tech is having precisely the opposite effect.

For now, then, we’ll stick with a zero-tolerance approach in our rental cars and vans.

To talk to us about your car or van rental, get in touch.

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