You might remember reading about Nissan piloting an in-car breathalyzer system as well as adding a drunk driving message to its cars' nav welcome screens. It turns out, the company is looking at a more comprehensive approach to anti-drunk driving technology integration. The effort has born fruit in the form of a Nissan Fuga ( Infiniti M) sedan that is outfitted with several anti-DUI countermeasures. It's just a concept right now, but the approach taken is very interesting.
The Fuga's shifter contains a sensor which measures the amount of alcohol in the driver's hand perspiration. If it is beyond the preset limit, it will immobilize the car and not allow it to be driven. It reinforces the message with a verbal warning from the navigation system. Additional odor sensors in the front seats check for alcohol odor in the air. If any is detected, warnings are issued via the nav system.
Follow the jump for the other features.
A camera mounted in the instrument cluster monitors the driver's face, paying particular attention to the eyes and the driver's blinking. If it detects drowsiness, once again, a voice warning and onscreen message is issued by the nav system. That measure is supplemented by a tug on the seat belt that's intended to get the driver's attention. The same things happen if the car senses troublesome driving behavior, such as erratic lane departure and re-entry.
Obviously, the ultimate responsibility lies with the driver, who should know better than to get behind the wheel while impaired. That said, however, a multifaceted system such as the one Nissan has employed in its concept car seems like it could be a good second line of defense. We don't need to discuss the wide-reaching and potentially tragic consequences of drunk driving -- they're well known. A comprehensive approach like this, which essentially turns anti-DUI technology into another integrated onboard safety system, is a lot more elegant than a breathalyzer you have to blow into before you can turn the key. If it can be perfected and offered as optional equipment in the future, we're sure there would be some takers.
The problem is this: While it might have appeal to some car shoppers, all the preventive measures in the world in one's own car are of no use against drivers who plow into you after downing one too many. You can work to enhance prevention with features like this, but drunk driving, sadly, isn't something that can simply be engineered out of existence.