WASHINGTON, D.C. – The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill penned by Democrats and signed into law by President Joe Biden has been revealed to contain a clandestine automotive “safety device” purported to prevent driving while intoxicated, but whose potential misuse has some worrying about the erosion of personal freedoms.
H.R.3684 – also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – mandates numerous new additions to vehicle systems over time, including crash avoidance technology, improved driver monitoring systems to combat distracted driving, a revised five-star safety rating program, and more.
However, the bill also requires that all new cars be equipped with technology to prevent drunk and impaired driving over the course of the next decade. This tech would “passively” detect that a driver is impaired – as opposed to current alcohol interlock devices that require drivers to blow into a device – and prevent them from being above to start their vehicle.
Experts say that this tech could save as many as 9,000 lives per year.
But another measure contained in the infrastructure bill would require automakers to also install an automatic engine shutoff system in cars with keyless ignition switches; essentially a remote “kill switch,” this system is said to be mandated to prevent deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning if a driver accidently – or on purpose – leaves their vehicle running in an enclosed space.
While these measures are being hailed by many as a positive step forward in terms of automotive safety, others are expressing their concerns that this remote “kill switch” could be utilized by authorities or the federal government to disable motorists’ vehicles at any time, and for any reason.
The language of the infrastructure bill in regard to this system is described as “vague” and not laying out the situations in which it may be engaged outside of its specified purpose. Some are questioning if it could be utilized by outside parties – or perhaps even hacked by criminals – for nefarious purposes, causing potential violations of the Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Amendments of the Constitution.
But with the signature of President Biden, the vehicle provisions contained in the infrastructure bill are now the law of the land; it remains to be seen how their usage pans out.