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Joseph Coupal - Sunday, February 28, 2010
A Canadian company, Sober Steering Sensors, is working on technology that makes use of chemical sensors built into steering wheels to detect the gas byproducts of alcohol through the skin of drivers. This transdermal technology, developed in conjunction with California-based Seacoast Science, has been garnering interest. Sober Steering recently received $1.5 Million from the Ontario government’s Innovation Demonstration Fund to produce prototypes and test later them later this year in about 200 fleet vehicles, such as transport trucks and buses. Ignition interlock systems require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer before starting the car. If the breath test system registers alcohol above the legal limit, the vehicle will not start. Interlock devices have been criticized because they also require drivers to blow into the device after driving for a period of time, so drivers must be able to safely pull over and repeat the test when the machine tells them to. On the other hand, if drivers are tested through the steering wheel, all that would be needed when periodic re-testing is required is to keep their hands on the wheel. Ignition interlock systems are also expensive, costing up to approximately $2,000 per vehicle, as opposed to an estimated $200 for the Sober Steering solution. Stay tuned for more information on this technology.

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