How do Breathalyser Cars Work?

How do Breathalyser Cars Work?
Written by Shikha Mehta

After smart phones came out, plenty of our other gadgets have turned smart such as smart watches, smart t-shirts, etc. Now, what if I tell you that you will soon see the sensitivity in cars? Well, they will be called breathalyser cars and will detect if you’re about to drink and drive.

What if the car detects alcohol in your breath? Guess what, you just won’t be able to drive. No matter how much you try, the car won’t start till you get sober. Don’t even think about tampering the breathalyser in the car, you might be locked out permanently if you do that!

What do Breathalyser Cars Do?

You’ve seen a normal breathalyser that the traffic police use. You need to breathe into the pipe and the screen displays a number that detects how high are you. The one in your car works exactly the same way, only it is connected to the starter.

The device will be installed next to the steering wheel, close enough for the driver to blow into conveniently. This is how the device will exactly work:

  • First, you need to start your car by turning the key or pressing the button in case of an automatic car.
  • Instead of the engine starting, you’ll see that your breathalyser device is on.
  • Next, you blow into the device so that it senses whether you have alcohol in your blood or not.
  • In case the blood alcohol level is below the predetermined number, your car starts right away. However, if you are truly tipsy, the engine won’t start.

The moment the breathalyser detects alcohol, it freezes the engine and is immediately ready to take the next breath sample. It will allow the engine to start once the blood alcohol limit goes below the predetermined level.

Types of Car Interlock Devices

Now that you know what does a breathalyser car immobilizer do, we come to the types of devices available in the market. There are 2 types of breathalysers that can be connected to a car:

Manual devices: They are like the breathalysers which you’ve been currently using. They have a little pipe in which you have to blow once you start your car.

One drawback of this device is that after some time, say 30-40 minutes, depending on the brand, you need to stop your car and blow into it again. The device starts giving a signal when it is about to stop your car for another re-test. This process kills time.

Smart devices: Considering the problem with manual devices, there are smart devices that will do the job of a manual breathalyser without you having to blow into it.

These are again of two types:

Breath-sensitive: These devices will check your breath without you having to bend and blow into it. they don’t have a mouth pipe, but have breath sensors that will sense breath up to the distance where the driver sits. Hence, neither do you wait for the car to start, nor do you have to stop again for a re-test.

Touch-sensitive: These are different from the above two completely. It is a touchpad placed on the steering wheel that can scan beneath your skin to detect blood alcohol count. This infrared light technology also enables you to start the car smoothly and doesn’t require re-tests as it is constantly in touch with you.

Why do We Need Breathalyser Car Immobilizers?

According to World Health Organization, approximately 1.35 million deaths take place only by road accidents every year. 5-35% of these deaths take place due to drunk driving.

Considering the high rates, breathalyser cars can nearly stop this, provided it is made compulsory by the law. With a regular car, a driver can break the law. However, that does not prevent the accident, it only sends the driver to prison or suspends his license.

However, a horrifying accident is curbed completely when a driver is unable to start the car in the first place. This saves a lot more lives than a law punishing a convict after the damage has been done. After all, “prevention is better than cure”.

About the author

Shikha Mehta

I discovered my talent in writing while I was in high school. Since then, I discovered the joy of sharing your knowledge with people around you. This is the reason why I love making my contributions to Insights of Technology. Being a certified content writer, I have been writing on several topics, science & technology being one of my favorites.

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