Infrastructure Bill Mandates New Car Safety Features You May Not Like

The Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill satisfies a lot of issues that we Americans deal with every day. And one would expect an infrastructure bill to fix roads, bridges, traffic, and many more travel and shipping hassles. But the addition of mandating numerous car safety features may not be what some want or like.

Detecting drunk driving is one of the safety features

drunk driving billboard
St. Joseph, Missouri, Anti-drinking billboard sign | Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Drinking and driving nobody wants. And that is one of the mandates the bill aims to fix. A system would have to be installed to detect drunk, impaired, or fatigued driving. Sensors that are similar to what police use will scan your eyes for suspected drunk driving. 

“We can’t wait any longer to make our roads safer from drunk driving accidents,” Rep. Debbie Dingell said in a statement. “The inclusion of my bill in the bipartisan infrastructure package will help incentivize the development and implementation of technology to stop drunk driving once and for all and save lives.”

The bill would establish the NHTSA to conduct feasibility studies for testing that would set a mandate within three years. This would also allow carmakers to factor into vehicle development potential systems the law would require. 

Children left in a car on hot days is a safety feature in the bill

Drunk driving
The city of Miami Beach police department conducts a field sobriety test at a DUI traffic checkpoint | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There is also a provision that aims to address children or animals left in cars on hot days. It would require a “door logic” alert. This would trigger a bell or buzz to remind the driver there is something in the rear seat. It would alert when the driver’s door is opened and closed. 

Since 1990 more than 1,000 children have died from being left in hot cars. “The Senate version is only requesting a reminder system that does not detect anything,” Jannette Fennell, president of Kids and Car Safety, told Bloomberg. “It does not let you know if there is an actual child in the back seat.”

There are also provisions for addressing seat-back failures, distracted driving, and recalls. “We must still fight to improve this bill before it becomes law,” said Senator Ed Markey. “That’s why I will be offering several amendments to strengthen my existing safety provisions and remove dangerous proposals that could undermine some of the rules we already have on the books.”

Some vehicles already come with the requested safety features

drunk driving test
A woman walks the white line during a field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Some cars already have these distracted driving alerts. Others should only take some software reconfiguring to comply. There are those that will argue this adds still more complexity and cost for the manufacturer and owner. 

But, that is many times the argument when the government mandates safety or environmental changes to vehicle manufacturing. It should go without saying that these are worthwhile safety systems that can save lives as well as improve driving. While some may not like having Big Brother controlling your car, we are already past that point.

RELATED: This Safety Feature Could Prevent Hundreds of Thousands of Accidents