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]