Drinking and driving are a deadly combination. If only more people could test their own blood alcohol count from the privacy of their own vehicle before putting the key in the ignition. Imagine how many lives could be saved. Better yet, don’t imagine it – do it. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, including Swedish auto safety equipment company Autoliv Inc.’s new in-car breathalyzer. It will operate automatically when a potential driver gets into the vehicle.
An involuntary solution
Most breathalyzer technology requires the motorist to activate the device and breathe into a tube so that the breath can be analyzed. According to Autoliv CEO Jan Carlson, their breathalyzer works seamlessly.
“It should be seamless. You should not notice the car has an alcohol detection device in it,” said Carlson as he addresed an audience at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Monte Carlo.
According to Carlson, the Autoliv involuntary breathalyzer will be the industry standard within five years.
“Everyone will be interested in it, particularly if it is affordable,” he said. “If you look at the numbers, 30 percent of all fatalities are coming from driving under the influence. When you talk to parents with teenage daughters and sons they would love to have this device in the vehicle.”
Green light for active safety systems
After making a name for itself with designs for passive auto safety devices like seatbelts and airbags, Autoliv has shifted its focus to active safety systems.
“We are spending significantly more money in active research rather than passive,” Carlson said to the Europe congress.
Considering that Autoliv ranks among the top 20 global suppliers – with worldwide sales to automakers of $8.2 billion in 2011 – it seems that Autoliv is poised to take the active auto safety system market by storm.
But let’s not forget the fines
Everyone needs to be knocked down a peg once in a while, at least for humility’s sake. According to the Los Angeles Times, Autoliv was recently knocked down 14.5 million pegs, as in $14.5 million. That’s the fine Autoliv will pay for its role in an auto parts price fixing scandal, as ordered by the U.S. Justice Department. Autoliv reportedly conspired to manipulate the price of seat belts, air bags and steering wheels sold to U.S. and foreign automakers between 2006 and 2011. Executives at a Japanese parts manufacturer were sentenced to jail time of two years or more.
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Currently, Autoliv operates in 29 countries and has almost 50,000 employees worldwide.