Car manufacturers will soon be required to install impaired driving prevention technology in new cars in part because of a McHenry mother, who pushed for the legislation after her son was killed by a drunk driver.
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and other community stakeholders held a press conference Monday regarding the safety and technology provisions of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act H.R. 3684.
H.R. 3684 was signed into law in November. The bipartisan legislation provides for $1.2 trillion dollars in federal spending over the next five years and covers many areas of America’s infrastructure.
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will not only make safer America’s roads and bridges, but it contains provisions that will prevent driving under the influence and distracted driving fatalities,” Kelly said.
“Every life saved means one less family – mothers, fathers, children – spared the unspeakable grief of losing a loved one to a traffic related crash,” he said.
Kelly noted that in 2020 there were 1,196 fatalities on Illinois roadways. In 2021, that number rose to 1,371. As of March 11, there have been 188 fatalities this year.
As a result of this new law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be developing a standard to take effect in the next three years that will require all new passenger vehicles manufactured in the future to be equipped with advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology.
The federally mandated technology is due to take effect no later than 2026-2027.
Automakers will be required to implement performance monitoring systems such as outside lane assist cameras and sensors, as well as internal equipment that will track head and eye movement.
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is going to be a driving force to get federal, state and local partners working as one to build and maintain a transportation system that is safer for all users,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman.
“When someone makes a mistake or bad choice while driving, we don’t want the result to be the loss of a life. Every death is not just a statistic, but the loss of a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker or loved one. The only acceptable goal for any of us is zero,” Osman said.
McHenry resident Sheila Lockwood, whose 23-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver in 2018, has been pushing for legislation to reduce impaired driving alongside the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Lockwood said the day when technology keeps impaired drivers off the road “cannot come soon enough.”
“Every year, every day, every hour that this safety standard is delayed, more families will be shattered because drunk drivers continue to kill and injure innocent people,” Lockwood said.
“I am grateful for all that our partners have done toward ending drunk driving. We all need to keep the pressure on to get drunk driving prevention technology on all new cars as soon as possible,” she said.