Contrary to the negative reputation that tech companies have for cranking out too many distracting gizmos, many startups are actually focusing on making driving easier and safer. Just look at the thousands of traffic apps that give you real-time updates for a smooth trip, including my favorite, Waze. Other companies are discouraging distracted driving by developing programs to keep drivers awake and alert — NoNap has an earpiece that sounds a buzzer if it senses your head starting to droop into sleep-mode, and Anti-Sleep Pilot periodically asks drivers to tap the screen to measure their alertness and recommends when they need to pull over. With drowsy driving causing more than 100,000 crashes each year, these innovations could help slash that figure.
Meanwhile, since drunk driving kills so many people, there is a wasted opportunity here to campaign for automakers to install breathalyzers in new vehicles. Interlock-ignition devices already exist, where cars won’t start without drivers blowing clean into breathalyzers that are attached to dashboards and connected to the ignition. They have become court-ordered vehicle accessories for some DUI offenders, but they’re not in the general market as a prevention tool. Here’s an idea: If you are going to mandate the use of technology, why not mandate breathalyzers to start the car if you are a driver under 21 years old and driving after dark?