Home Curiosity How the Car Key Breathalyzer Feature Can Help Prevent Alcohol-Related Accidents

How the Car Key Breathalyzer Feature Can Help Prevent Alcohol-Related Accidents

drunk driver

Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths among American drivers. Sadly, these are preventable events, but they continue to occur across the United States.

“As technology advances, more effective strategies for reducing drunk-driving accidents emerge,” says criminal defense attorney Matt Hayes of Grand Canyon Law Group. Apple is exploring a Car key breathalyzer feature that would not allow drivers to unlock their cars if they are over the legal alcohol limit. If implemented, this will significantly reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes.

The Effects of Alcohol on Driving Ability

Alcohol has numerous effects on the body. The immediate effects of alcohol make it unsafe to engage in activity that requires skill, attention, and coordinated movement. Alcohol affects the sensory perception, the nerve-to-muscle transmission, decision-making, and general brain functions, resulting in effects such as:

  • Altered judgment: Alcohol can affect clear thinking, decision-making, and planning. It can also increase risk-taking behavior. All of which are required skills for driving.
  • Reduced concentration ability: Driving a car necessitates far more concentration than most people realize. However, when your ability to focus on the numerous tasks involved in driving reduces, the risk of an accident increases significantly.
  • Loss of coordination: Alcohol also affects the parts of the brain that control motor skills. It slows reaction times which increases the risk of an accident.
  • Visual impairment: Alcohol also reduces peripheral vision, making it difficult for drunk drivers to see anything that is not directly in their front. These include other vehicles, pedestrians, and other road hazards.

These effects can lead to accidents that can result in injuries to the intoxicated driver and death in some cases. Aside from the drunk drivers, it can seriously injure or kill other road users. (1)

The NHTSA Recommended Tips For Preventing Alcohol-Related Accidents

To help prevent alcohol-related accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommended a five-point plan for drivers in the United States. The recommended plans include the following:

  • Plan a safe ride home before the party begins, and choose a sober friend as the designated driver
  • Do not allow anyone you know that has been drinking to drive. Take their keys and assist them in finding a sober ride home
  • If you have consumed alcohol, do not drive for any reason. You can call a cab, a ride-hailing service, or a friend that is not drunk
  • If you are throwing a party and alcohol will be served, ensure everyone leaves with a sober driver
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times. It can serve as your best defense against an intoxicated-driver

How the Car Key Breathalyzer Patent Application Can Help Prevent Drunk-driving Accidents

Apple is considering developing a feature that will lock drunk drivers out of their vehicles for good reason. With the new patent application, Apple hopes to improve its Car Keys Feature by adding a breathalyzer feature.

How Does the Apple Car Keys Function?

Drivers can replace physical car keys with their iPhones using the Apple Car Key feature. It works by simply holding the iPhone close to the door handle of the car to unlock it using the Near-field communication (NFC) technology. To start the vehicle, place the iPhone in the NFC reader or wireless charger once inside.

With the U1 chip in iPhone 11 or later, you can unlock or start the car without taking the iPhone out of your pocket. By default, the Apple Car Key feature does not require authentication and can work with a single tap. Apple ensures that the process is safe and secure by using a unique token shared by your iPhone and your car.

iOS makes use of your location and Apple ID information to prevent fraud. Those who prefer face or touch ID authentication to unlock or start the car can turn off the Express Mode. Furthermore, Apple watches can also have the car key feature. Also, when the iPhone battery dies, the feature can continue to work for up to five hours via Power Reserve mode.

How the Car Key Breathalyzer Patent Application Works

The application aims to discourage drunk driving. It locks the car if the phone, watch, or connected accessory detects a high level of blood alcohol from the user.

In some cases, the driver may be able to enter the car but not move it. In some embodiments, the user must meet one or more unlocking criteria before removing the Secure Credentials. The Criteria include the following:

The Blood Alcohol Level Criteria

Here, a user must meet the blood alcohol level before removing the temporary restriction on the secure credential before the time limit expires. Before the removal, the blood-alcohol level must fall below the threshold value. When the iPhone detects an input, a notification usually appears instructing the user to breathe into a breathalyzer.

The breathalyzer could be an in-built iPhone feature or other accessories that communicate wirelessly with the iPhone. If the blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, the blood alcohol level does not meet one or more biometric criteria. The alcohol blood level does not fall below the threshold value meaning the electronic device will keep the secure credential restrictions in place.

If the electronic device receives biometric data indicating that the blood alcohol level is less than 0.08, it falls below the threshold value. Because the blood alcohol level meets one or more biometric criteria, the electronic device will lift the restrictions on the secure credential. (2)

Completing a Challenge, such as the Manual Dexterity Test

In some cases, testing the breath may not be sufficient to meet the criteria of the application. In some embodiments, one or more unlocking standards may require the user to complete a challenge to remove restrictions on the secure credential.

The challenge could be a manual dexterity test like a mental clarity test such as a series of math problems. The aim of completing this challenge is to prove to the app that the driver is fit to drive.

Final Thought

After facing punishments for drunk driving in the US, the law may require a driver to install a breathalyzer in their vehicle. Since this is the case in the US, enforcing the car key Breathalyzer Feature on all drivers convicted of drunk driving will be easier. Imposing the feature on non-convicted drivers will also help to reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents.