Detect Alcohol in Cars Via Laser Device?

detect alcoholA new article in the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing is attracting attention for research that could aid in the campaign to prevent drunk driving: a device that can detect alcohol in cars.[1] In the article “Stand-off detection of alcohol in car cabins, ” by Jaroslaw Mlynczak, Jan Kubicki, and Krzysztof Kopczynski of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw, details experiments using an external laser device to detect the presence of alcohol vapors inside of a moving car.1

Stand-off detection is a chemical and biological compound identification method using a laser that takes place at a distance from people to reduce the potential for damage.1 The authors state that the use of stand-off detection for chemical identification is already described in many papers.1

“This work illustrates how remote sensing technologies affect our everyday life,” said Marco Gianinetto of the Politecnico di Milano, as associate editor with the journal. “We all are already familiar with laser instruments used by the police for speed-limit enforcement. Now these researchers have demonstrated how a laser device could be effectively used for detecting drunken drivers and thereby helping to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. In the future, a similar technology may be developed to detect different chemical compounds, enabling detection of drivers under the influence of other intoxicants.”1

Using the device is simple: the laser system is set up on the side of the road to monitor each car that passes.1 If alcohol vapors are detected in the car, a message with a photo of the car and license plate is sent to a police officer waiting down the road.1 Then, the officer may stop the car and check for signs of alcohol, using conventional tests.1

However, the device would also identify cars where the driver is sober but the passengers are not, or if there is spilled alcohol in the car, but the device will definitely decrease the number of cars that have to be checked by police, at the same time as increasing the efficacy of stopping drunken drivers.1

“From the practical point-of-view, there seems to be some countermeasures, such as driving with windows open, solar screens on the side windows, etc., that can be applied by drivers to deceive the system,” the authors wrote in their conclusion. “However, such situations are very easily detected by the system, which sends this information to the policeman indicating that the car should be checked.”1

[1] SPIE. (2014, June 2). Laser device can detect alcohol in cars: External device detects presence of alcohol vapors inside of a moving car. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 4, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140602155959.htm

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