• Jan 3, 2007
A few months ago we told you of Nissan's plans to test an ignition interlock that would stop intoxicated would-be drivers from starting their cars. Several recent high-profile, alcohol-related accidents and fatalities in Japan have brought drunk driving to the forefront of lawmakers' minds, and Nissan appeared to be one of the first Japanese automakers to address the issue. Not one to let rival Nissan get the jump on them, Toyota Motor Corp. is said to be working on its own drunk driving inhibitor system. And it sounds pretty sci-fi to us. Actually, it sounds pretty Big Brother with huge potential safety concerns.
The Toyota system would involve sensors in the steering wheel that could detect alcohol through the sweat of the driver's hands. The system would stop drunk drivers from operating their vehicles by automatically shutting things down if it detects intoxication. And in case the steering wheel sensors don't detect the elevated blood alcohol content (say, if the driver was wearing gloves), sensors could also detect irregular steering inputs (please define "irregular" for driving enthusiasts), or cameras could even monitor the driver's pupils for signs of lack of focus (maybe they wear their sunglasses at night). If anything seems out of order, the vehicle would slowly come to a halt, hopefully not in the middle of freeway traffic. Better to get the drunk driver off the road, but anytime the car takes over the driving, we wonder whether the problem might actually be compounded.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Maybe a "good" idea at best, but not very realistic at all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with those saying that Toyota should put the money into fixing the engine oil sludge problem and compensating the sludge victims. If the technology used in the steering wheel is anything like the technology in the sludge-prone engines (e.g. reliability and quality), then there most likely is going to be some major issues with the system.

      Here is the truth about Toyota engine oil sludge for those interested....

      Charlene Blake
      cblake@erols.com
      Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution

      P.S. File online vehicle owner reports with the Center for Auto Safety and the NHTSA

      ******************************************

      The Truth About Toyota Engine Oil Sludge
      Toyota engine oil sludge affects more than the few models and model years covered in Toyota's "Customer Support Program for Engine Oil Gelation." Toyota indicates that 1997-2002 Sienna, Camry, Avalon, Celica, Lexus RX300, and Lexus ES300 are the ones that are sludge-prone. At the same time, it says that these vehicle owners are to blame for the sludge condition. Toyota doesn't include the earlier models or the later models, though. It also doesn't include the Corolla, RAV4, and 4Runner despite the fact that some of these owners are reporting sludge buildup and engine demise.
      The class action lawsuit covers all the models and model years included in the CSP, contrary to the poster's information above. I suppose that Toyota will use any loopholes it can to limit the relief for its valued customers.

      Many Toyota owners are reporting that Toyota has required far more engine oil change receipts than what it publicly has stated it would. According to owner accounts, owners continue to be treated poorly in Toyota's alleged effort to limit the number of vehicle owners who qualify under the CSP. In many cases engines are being cleaned when they need to be replaced.

      Unfortunately, the class action lawsuit doesn't help those with models not covered under the CSP. It doesn't help those who long ago traded their vehicles when sludge clogged their engines. It doesn't help those Toyota owners whose engines mysteriously threw rods through the engine block. It doesn't do anything for the Toyota owners whose engines spontaneously erupted in fire on the road for no apparent reason. No, there are many Toyota owners left out.

      Is Toyota really "listening" to online discussions/reports by its vehicle owners? If so, why isn't the petition being addressed? Why aren't these owners getting a fair resolution in their sludge or engine failure cases? We know that Toyota is tracking the owner postings.

      Interestingly enough, someone has been trying desperately to sabotage the Toyota owner petition. Who would care to go to this length to prevent Toyota owner organization? Who would want to end this petition? Hmmmm....

      Charlene Blake cblake@erols.com
      Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution
      http://www.petitiononline.com/TMC2003/petition.html

      • 8 Years Ago
      Toyota should focus on detecting and fixing sludging engines and repairing their trouble-prone cars.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's a great idea!!! Till someone puts on a pair of $2 gloves, or uses hand sanitizer.... In other words I like the idea but lets be honest do we really want to pay for a technology that it took people here about 5 seconds to figure out a way to defeat it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I wonder what happens if you're completely sober but are out at a bar with friends, your hand gets some alcohol on them from the top of the bar or table, and then the car doesn't drive?

      Nothing like being stone sober and stuck with a bunch of drunk friends that you can't drive home.

      Noble intentions, bad execution. Drunk drivers will always find a way to drive unfortunately.
      • 8 Years Ago
      damn. how am i supposed to get home? next thing they'll do is invent some kinda pot sensor. then i'll really have to grow up. oh wait. there's always airplane glue, you know that stuff toyota's are put together with.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why all this complaints about law suits. Drunk driving is illegal and this technology will probably be offered as an option.

      And for those that are complaining about hand-lotions and profuse sweating, you need to understand that this stuff actually calculates ur blood alcohol level from ur sweat, which is a concentration, thus, quantity of sweat will not affect it.

      I'm sure if ur darling GM or Ford was smart in enough developed this technology you guy will probably be applauding it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I've lived in Iceland and Japan...two countries that take the POSSIBILITY of folks driving drunk, VERY seriously. If Toyota, a Japanese company, incorporates this feature into it's home market cars that is no guarantee it will ever be adopted here.

      I remember way back in 1970 when Congress thought it would require a seatbelt/ignition switch interconnecting lock. It didn't last a year thanks to challenges brought by folks who thought it was an invasion of privacy to be forced to buckle up before a car could be started. Those stupid little chimes that newer cars have that try to remind you to buckle up were A LOT more annoying back in the '70s. Now they are almost inaudible.
      • 8 Years Ago
      All those what-if's sound like a couple guys sitting around having a couple beers came up with these ideas. LAME!!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is nothing more than Strato-Marketing (my term), grab a concept that softly combats a social problem and incorporate it into the product. Look at the population trends and the developing country markets -alcohol abuse/experimentation are only going to rise. This is the new "Hybrid" technology twist, It is a new age, hook up and ride....
      Clyde Batter
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is stupid. My &^%$#@ hand-lotion contains alcohol. Does that mean I shouldn't drive after using it? Or can I use it only on 2 fingers?

      Toyota should spend its time fixing the massive number of recent recalls. Or better yet, put a new mug on that fugly Camry.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If this is implemented, I predict a case in which the system fails to detect a drunk driver who has a wreck. He or the victims in another car will sue Toyota for millions.
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