Nissan Motor Co. said July 23 that it will begin testing a new on-board breathalyzer that will prevent inebriated motorists from starting up their cars. The system can detect the alcohol level on a driver's breath and disable the ignition if it exceeds a certain limit.
Nissan will conduct tests in cooperation with local authorities in several locations around Japan, which has strict laws against drinking alcohol before driving.
The automaker said the tests were still at an early stage and there were no firm plans yet to launch the technology. "It's probably going to require a lot of legislative support or a government push for making it a requirement, or it could be available as an option," said Nissan Motor spokeswoman Pauline Kee."Obviously we can install it on our vehicles but you also need to think about whether or not customers want such a device," she said.
Nissan aims to halve the number of traffic fatalities or serious injuries involving its vehicles by 2015 compared with two decades earlier.
Rival Toyota Motor is reportedly researching a system of sensors on a car's steering wheel to measure the alcohol level in a driver's sweat, while mobile telephone operators have developed a combined breathalyzer and telephone.
The moves come amid growing public outcry about drunk driving accidents, which totaled nearly 14,000 in 2005, leaving 707 people dead, according to the latest available figures from the National Police Agency
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007