ALBANY, NY (WIVB) - Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by anti-drunkdriving law enforcement, victims of drunk driving incidents andadvocates for increased road safety, pushed Schumer sponsoredlegislation to foster research and development of in-car technologyto fight the scourge of drunk driving. Schumer’s legislationwould create a consortium to drastically curb intoxicated drivingby funding a partnership between anti-drunk driving advocates,large car companies and the federal government to design devicesthat prevent intoxicated people from ever turning on the car.
“One drunk driving accident can rip apart a family andchange a community forever; it’s a problem that touches morelives every year and we need a fresh approach,” Schumer said.“This legislation gets to the heart of the problem by makingsure that drinkers can’t even turn the ignition on in theircar and pull out onto the road where they’re adanger.”
Schumer said that drunk driving kills thousands of people acrossthe country every year and hundreds of people in New York –many of them teens – but only 2% of intoxicated drivers arecaught. Schumer said that existing devices, such as ignition locks,are expensive and obtrusive and that future technology has to beunnoticeable, so that it doesn’t inconvenience a soberdriver, and so that people can choose to install it in the car of ateen who is learning to drive or going off to college.
Standing at the North Tonawanda City Council Chambers, Schumerwas joined by Ann Orszulak whose daughter was killed in a DWIaccident that could have been prevented if she was not able to getbehind the wheel. Since her daughter passed, Ann has fought hard toprevent other families from having to experience what she did bytraveling around the region to address victims and discuss thedangers of intoxicated driving while partnering with MADD (MothersAgainst Drunk Driving). Schumer was also was joined by the Mayor ofNorth Tonawanda Robert Ortt; Michael Violante, Niagara CountyDistrict Attorney; Ted Brenner, Assistant Niagara County DistrictAttorney; James Voutour, Niagara County Sheriff; Randy Szukala,North Tonawanda Chief of Police and Elizabeth Obad, President ofErie County MADD
The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for StoppingAlcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere (ROADS SAFE) Act, wouldauthorize $12 million in annual funding for five years for theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA)Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) program todevelop in-vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving. The fundingwould be provided through money that the federal government hasalready appropriated for road safety initiatives, therefore makingthe legislation revenue neutral and not adding to the deficit.
NHTSA and DADSS would use the funding to explore a variety ofemerging technologies designed to reduce drunken driving crashes.Currently, some devices exist to stop drunk driving, but too oftenthe devices can be manipulated to allow a drunk driver to getbehind the wheel. The legislation would promote innovations thatcreate a fail-safe device so that no drunk driver can start theircar.
This new approach would bring together the government,non-profits and car companies to form a consortium. The consortiumwould be tasked with developing new technologies that would curbdrunk driving in a way that protects Americans on the road andallows car manufacturers to produce high quality vehicles. Underthe program, the technologies explored would include devices thatdetermine a driver’s blood alcohol level by touching thesteering wheel or engine start button, as well as sensors thatpassively monitor a driver’s breath or eye movements. If thesensors indicate that the driver’s blood alcohol level isover the legal limit, the vehicle would not start- stopping a drunkdriver before their vehicle gets on the road and endangersothers.
Between 2004 and 2008 a total of 179 people were killed byintoxicated drivers in Western New York.
A teen-aged mother, her young husband and her father are all accused of helping a 23-month-old boy smoke marijuana.
Investigators have charged a Jamestown man with animal cruelty after a female Chihuahua was found zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.
State Police say they caught a man wanted on a bench warrant trying to crawl out of a bathroom window.
Hamburg Police say a drunk driver caused a head-on crash on Lakeshore Road overnight.
A Colorado sheriff says a suspect in a Denver-area high school shooting has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A southern tier man has been arrested after allegedly stabbing a man multiple times inside the victim's home.