HOUSE OKS ANTI-DWI TECHNOLOGY: Back in April, I did a column on U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s support for anti-DWI technology in vehicles that stops a drunken driver before they hurt someone.
The New Mexico Democrat said his RIDE Act, like the HALT Act in the House sponsored by Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., “would involve a variety of drunk driving prevention systems, including driver monitoring, which can detect signs of distracted, impaired or fatigued driving, and alcohol detection, which uses sensors to determine that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, and then prevent the vehicle from moving,” according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
And last week the U.S. House passed the INVEST in America Act, the $715 billion infrastructure bill, which includes the HALT Act provisions. The technology-neutral rule-making could mean that soon all new vehicles will have:
• Driving-performance-monitoring systems that monitor vehicle movement, such as lane departure warning and attention assist.
• Driver-monitoring systems that monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically with a camera or sensors.
• Alcohol-detection systems that use sensors to determine whether a driver is drunk and then prevent the vehicle from moving.
Supporters say the technology is already here in new cars, and as it involves little more than software tweaks it will be cost-neutral when it comes to dollars. When it comes to lives, Luján says, “The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that more than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year if drunk-driving prevention technology is made standard on every new vehicle.”
Through May of this year, 35 people have died in New Mexico alone in crashes involving drunken drivers, according to state Department of Transportation and University of New Mexico stats.
Now we wait and see if the Senate passes a version that includes the HALT (or RIDE) language.
OVERGROWN ON OSUNA : Chuck emails, “Going west on Osuna to Sandia Prep, you have to turn left, across traffic, to enter the front of the school entrance. On the median between the opposing sets of traffic there are some trees. One large one interferes with seeing the traffic coming toward you when you turn left.”
And Chuck’s worry is, “Eventually, someone with kids in the summer program is going to be T-boned. The state and county highway departments say this is the responsibility of the city of Albuquerque. I’ve called the city, but no one has returned my call. Can someone go out and look at this situation, especially around 7:55 a.m. and noon?”
Johnny Chandler, public information coordinator for the city of Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department, says, “Vegetation growth such as bushes and trees help keep our city beautiful, but can also present line-of-sight issues for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Median maintenance is handled by the city of Albuquerque Solid Waste Department as part of the Clean Cities Program. The best way to report vegetation blocking the line of sight on the roadways is to call 311. That will serve as a friendly reminder to the city to look and potentially cut back vegetation or it serves as a friendly reminder for the city to inform the property owner of their maintenance responsibilities.”
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.