New Dashboard Sensors Can Stop Drunk Drivers

VIDEO: The government and auto industry have been working on ways to combat DUI.
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Drunk driving takes a horrible toll on the highway. In 2009 drunk drivers killed more than 10,000 people, accounting for one third of all highway deaths.

Now the government and auto industry are working together to develop technologies they hope can prevent a drunk driver from starting a vehicle.

The new technologies are built right into the car and are invisible to the driver. They can include a breath analyzer that can sense alcohol on a driver's breath, or touch sensors on the car's starter button that can detect alcohol levels through the skin.

Paula Celentano lost her 18 year old daughter, Alisa, in an accident caused by a drunk driver.

"She was a very special young lady," Celentano said.

It is easy to imagine how Celentano feels about the new technology that could stop drunk drivers in their tracks.

"This would be huge, beyond words, beyond words, a dream come true." she said.

The technology's precision and speed is still being fine-tuned in a Boston lab, but engineers say it will be tested in cars later this year.

"It's actually very exciting, it's extremely promising. ... I view this as the seat belt for our generation, it has the ability to save lives," said test engineer Bud Zaouk. "Not everyone is on board. The restaurant industry worries even one drink with dinner and the car won't start."

Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institue argues the technology targets the wrong people.

"Nobody wants there to be drunk drivers out on the highways, but we have to target drunk drivers, not all Americans."

Celentano, a mother still missing her daughter, says she just hopes the technology that was too late to save her loved one won't be too late to save the loved ones of many others.

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