A congressman from Long Island is calling on the federal transportation department to expedite funds to developing technology that would help keep drunk drivers off the roads.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) held a news conference Monday to urge Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood to expedite the $10.5 million allocated for preventive technology research over the next two years.
“Lahood needs to put his foot on the gas because drunk drivers are not putting their feet on the brakes,” said Israel while flanked by members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Nassau County police officers at the Second Precinct in Woodbury.
The research program, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), is currently working with automakers on perfecting current tools.
In the first four months of the year, there were 33 deaths in Nassau County at the wheel of drunk drivers, according to Israel.
Just last week there were three deaths attributed to driving while intoxicated—or boating, in one case—in neighboring Suffolk County.
Among the accused was 31-year-old Michael Grasing of Babylon, who allegedly crashed into another vehicle while driving at nearly quadruple the legal limit, killing 18-year-old Brittany Walsh near her Lindenhurst home.
Tom McCoy, the executive director of MADD Long Island, said that this technology could save thousands of lives per year.
Researchers are looking at tools such as biometric fingerprint readers and breathalyzers in vehicles to start the vehicles of previous offenders.
“This is the only way we are going to stop them,” said McCoy.