Gizmodo is reporting that Toyota and Nissan are tossing around ideas for preventing people from driving under the influence.
They’ve had some dumb ideas so far it seems: requiring a long PIN to be entered before the car will start, or having breathalyzers come standard with the car.
Here’s my idea. I think it’s better than those.
Cars are already on the verge of driving themselves. We don’t quite trust them yet– I think they need a heckuva track record before people will be ready to relinquish control of 2,000 lb. machines traveling at 60 mph, even if the machines can do it safer on average– but they’re getting ever closer to being able to get us to and from without our intervention.
In the meantime, how about taking that auto-driving technology (ha, I made a pun) and using it to allow the car to recognize when you’re not driving safely? Surely there are quantifiable differences between reacting to an emergency (driving around an accident or screeching to a halt to avoid a deer) and driving under the influence (weaving slowly from side to side, slow reaction times to events).
Your car could notice when your driving is impaired– it doesn’t have to be from alcohol, it could be that you fell asleep (started to drift off to the side), or you could have taken some drugs (swerving to drive over the purple monkey-toads with the faces of M. Emmett Walsh). Whatever the reason, the car could notice your erratic behavior and gently slow to a stop while displaying some kind of message and automatically calling you a taxi.
That’s what they should do. And now that I’ve introduced the idea into the ether, look for that mandatory feature at a dealer near you sometime in 2008.