A little late for New Year’s Eve, but we’ll take it all the same. Toyota is working on a steering wheel-based system to prevent drunks from driving.
First and foremost, the system, which is expected to make its bow in 2009, has sweat sensors in the steering wheel, which gauge the level of alcohol in the potential driver’s bloodstream and block startup if the level detected is too high (has Toyota ever heard of gloves?). Other features include an abnormal steering sensor and a special camera that detects if the driver’s pupils aren’t focusing. In either of those two cases, the system slows the car to a standstill.
Nissan is said to be working on the same sort of system, presented in a different way, namely a breathalyzer. Both systems (in addition to the recent crackdown on bus and taxi drivers) are part of a huge effort by Japan to crack down on drunken driving accidents and fatalities. Other elements of the crackdown include an increase in the frequency of roadside spot checks and harsher penalties for those who fail those checks.