MADD Canada urges liberals to mandate anti-tarnish technology in all cars


imageOne of the worst parts of seeing your family ripped apart by a drunk driver, says Brenda Simmons, is knowing that it could have been prevented with political will and the proper application of technology.

“If someone didn’t have the decency, or didn’t have the ability to make decisions [and they] still deciding to get behind the wheel, if that vehicle didn’t start because of some mandatory technology, my son would still be here,” she told CBC News.

A legislative provision requiring automakers to include anti-encroachment driving technology in all new cars starting in 2026 was part of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that US President Joe Biden signed into law in fall 2021.

Simons is one of several drunk driving victims who are behind that legislation and are leading a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) campaign to push the federal government to pass similar legislation in Canada.

“If it’s done in the US and we have such an integrated car system, I don’t see why we wouldn’t do everything in Canada to get that in place,” Simmons said.

In June 2020, Simmons’ son, Jacob, was cycling in Belfast PEI when he was killed by a drunk driver.The vehicle hit the 200-pound man so hard that he landed more than 200 feet from where he was hit.

Jacob’s father Kevin was undergoing cancer treatment at the time.Simmons said he responded well before the stress of losing his only son sent him into a tailspin; he died six weeks later.

“It was just a total devastation to our family,” she said.“It was random and it can happen to anyone.”

The US measures are part of a package of road safety improvements, which also includes a requirement that all new passenger cars in the US be equipped with advanced technology to prevent accidents.

The industry is exploring which technologies they can use.

Once the U.S.Department of Transportation has explored options and selected its preferred technology, automakers will have time to comply with the new requirements.

In the US, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety — representing car manufacturers — and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are working together to explore the technologies that could be used.

Both groups are part of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, a research program that proposes two unique technologies.

The first is a breathalyser unit attached to the steering wheel that can test the driver’s blood alcohol level as they exhale normally.The second is a skin test that requires the driver to place their finger on a sensor.

‘Something like this doesn’t happen quickly’

MADD National President Jaymie-Lyne Hancock held a virtual meeting with Transportation Secretary Omar Alghabra in November to discuss the initiative.She said the minister listened and took the suggestion seriously.

“We keep lobbying for it.

Something like this doesn’t happen anytime soon,” she said.“I just hope we can keep that message top-of-mind so we can implement this as soon as possible.”

Hancock lost her 18-year-old brother in 2014 when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver while driving home from hockey practice in Sudbury, Ont.

“This technology, in my opinion, really has the power to save countless lives,” she said.“As a victim, this can’t be implemented soon enough.”

In Canada, anyone convicted of drunk driving can be forced to have a breath alcohol ignition lock fitted to their car.That device requires a driver to provide a breath sample before starting their car, and undergo additional testing while driving.

Hancock said these devices are large and clunky and require more advanced, integrated technology.

The Alghabra office told CBC News that Transport Canada is part of the DADSS research initiative.

In a media statement, the Alghabra office said that while mounted interlock devices vary across the country, the federal government has a national voluntary standard that defines how they should operate.Alghabra’s office also said it is open to exploring the potential of this technology.

The US law does not cover cannabis testing and MADD Canada says the technology is not advanced enough to include cannabis restriction in their pitch for updated road safety in Canada.

“Transport Canada may consider regulatory initiatives related to anti-compromised driving technology at some point in the future as the technology matures,” the department’s statement said.

“Due to a regulatory mandate for new vehicles, it would be several years before most vehicles on the road would be equipped with such a device.”

NDP MP Brian Masse said his party would support making enhanced impairment detection devices mandatory in Canadian-made vehicles – not only in the interests of safety, but because the integrated nature of the North American car industry makes it a challenge to stand alone.

“This is really important to embrace public safety and lead the way,” said Masse.“The fact is that our auto markets are integrated for many reasons, in terms of public safety, and if they continue to do so, we have a responsibility to look into it ourselves.”

The conservatives did not respond to requests for comment from CBC News..

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MADD Canada pushes Liberals to make anti-impaired technology mandatory in all cars

[Politics](/news/politics) MADD Canada pushes Liberals to make anti-impaired technology mandatory in all cars By 2026, all new cars made in the U.S.will have to come with technology that tests sobriety of drivers One of the worst aspects of seeing your family ripped apart by a drunk driver, said Brenda Simmons, […]

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