DETROIT (NEWSnetAP) — U.S. auto safety regulators say they have taken the first step toward requiring devices in vehicles to prevent drunken driving.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it is starting the process to establish a new federal safety standard requiring the technology in all new passenger vehicles.

Such devices were required in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was approved by Congress in 2021.

The agency says an advance notice of proposed rule will help to gather information about technology requirement to detect impaired driving. The regulation would set standards for the devices after technology is mature, NHTSA said.

“It's going to keep drunk drivers off the road and we're going to keep people from dying because somebody's drunk,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who pushed for the regulation. “This is going to be simple technology.”

In 2022,  National Transportation Safety Board recommended to NHTSA that all new vehicles in the U.S. be equipped with alcohol-monitoring systems that can stop an intoxicated person from driving.

NHTSA and a group of 16 automakers have been funding research on alcohol monitoring, forming a group called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.

In 2021, the latest year for which statistics are available, nearly 13,400 people were killed in drunken driving crashes, costing society $280 billion in medical expenses, lost wages and loss of quality of life, the statement said.

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