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Booze busting

A protype of a new alcohol-detection device operate using automatic sensors to instantly gauge whether a driver is drunk or not could save thousands of lives, researchers and federal officials in Massachussetts said on Friday.

But while the new machine has the potential to save thousands of lives, it could be as long as ten years before it is used in everyday vehicles.

The device will measure the level of alcohol in the motorist’s blood, and prevent the vehicle from starting if it’s over the legally prescribed level.

The new Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety could operate using sensors that measure blood alcohol content either by analysing a driver's breath or through the skin, perhaps using sensors placed on steering wheels or door locks.

David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, estimated that the technology could prevent 9,000 alcohol-related death crashes a year in the U.S., though he acknowledged that the project was still in its infancy and may not be available for 8-10 years.

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