How a drunk driver inspired Sen. Luján to back anti-DWI tec…

Many new automobiles come equipped with external monitoring, which can detect if a car is veering into the wrong lane or speeding. Others, such as Volvo, come with internal driver monitoring systems that can determine if a driver’s eyes are off the road or if the driver’s head seems to be bobbing. In some cases, automobiles are also rigged with the technology to pull over when they detect impaired drivers.

Automakers have also developed but not employed passive technology to detect alcohol.

Demanding more

But at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing in April, John Bozzella, CEO and president of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, stopped short of endorsing Luján’s bill, saying instead he looks forward to working with Luján.

That answer didn’t satisfy Luján.

“This is easy, and this technology exists today,” Luján replied. “There’s no reason that the United States of America can’t lead, that we can’t save more lives.”

Luján then brought up his own experience, one of 362 alcohol-involved crashes that occurred in Santa Fe County that year.

“Mr. Bozzella, have you ever been hit by a drunk driver?” Luján asked. Bozzella said no.

“I have,” Luján continued. “I got hit head -on by a drunk driver 29 years ago, and there were many nights that I would be driving home after that accident, or driving anywhere, and all I would see were headlights coming at me. And it scared me to death. [I] couldn’t sleep many nights.” Alex Otte, the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said she found out about Luján’s accident earlier this year during a Zoom meeting with MADD advocates from New Mexico, at around the time Luján had signed on as a sponsor of the bill after the retirement of Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. Lujan replaced Udall in the Senate this year.

He didn’t start by telling his story, she said, but listened quietly as advocate after advocate told theirs.

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