KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- A horrific DUI crash may become the catalyst for a new safety device policy that will change the way Americans drive.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for all brand-new cars coming out of factories, to have a system that monitors the driver’s alcohol level.
In a report the NTSB released Tuesday, in the report, they use a crash near Avenal on New Year’s Day 2021, that killed nine people, including seven children.
It was later discovered the driver who caused the crash was driving drunk and hit speeds up to 95 miles per hour.
“The reality is, it is a tragic crash, and it involves speeding and impaired driving,” said Robert Molloy, Director of Highway Safety for the NTSB
The board is now requesting for all brand new cars throughout the country to have some sort of alcohol monitoring system in them, to prevent someone from getting behind the wheel drunk.
That system would either be an ethanol detection system, or cameras to detect a person’s movement, among other technological ways to stop the car from starting if the driver is not below the legal alcohol limit.
Crashes like the one in Avenal, are exactly what the NTSB says they are trying to prevent.
“There’s a lot of messaging that we shouldn’t drive impaired, and yet this crash still happened,” said Molloy.
A computer model shows what that crash would’ve looked like at peak impact.
During the board’s investigation, they found the driver of the SUV’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal amount.
Every year since 2019, there were over 20,000 road deaths from speeding or from drunk driving annually.
In 2022, the numbers are looking at around 11,000 or more deaths due to speeding, and 11,600 or more deaths from drunk driving.
Marc Benardout’s son Noah, was one of those deaths in 2019.
“My son was a 24-year-old beautiful boy, his whole life ahead of him. A drunk driver blew through an intersection at more than double the speed limit, double the alcohol, hit a vehicle that sent it into the sidewalk and the impact killed my son instantly,” said Benardout.
He is now turning his grief into advocacy, becoming a board member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
He supports the NTSB’s request.
“It was a very welcomed announcement because the more support we have the better this is and the quicker this is going to be resolved,” he said.
“We’re trying to get to the point where someone’s impaired and they’re driving, they can’t drive, the vehicle won’t let them. We can change the system and move towards zero fatalities,” said Molloy.
This request is still a long way away from becoming law. Some people are opposed to it, citing privacy issues.
As far as what’s next for this request, it will go through other safety boards and administrations, both outside of and within the NTSB, before the findings are taken to Congress to possibly become legislation.