- Waymo and MADD have teamed up to encourage designated drivers to be part of all holiday festivities.
- Waymo self-driving vehicles in Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay area will have magnetic red ribbons attached for November and December.
- Death related to drunk driving in the US has increased 35% in the past five years, MADD reports.
One of the much-discussed benefits of fully driverless vehicles is how they could reduce accidents and fatalities from drunk driving.
The holiday season can be especially deadly: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that “between the first Thanksgiving football game and the final countdown on New Year’s Eve, more than 1,100 people lost their lives to drunk drivers” in 2017.
Deaths related to drunk driving, the organisation point out, have increased “35% over the past five years.”
Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle division Waymo is aiming to launch a fully driverless service in several US cities in 2019, and to prepare for the designated driver being a robot, it has announced a special initiative with MADD, building on a partnership that’s been underway for several years, since Waymo was widely known as a the Google Car project.
“When autonomous vehicles began to gain traction, we began working more closely with Waymo and with other companies to promote the safety benefits of autonomous-vehicle technology,” J.T. Griffin, MADD’s Chief Government Affairs Officer, told Business Insider. He added that MADD has long been invested in using technology to eliminate drunk driving, describing the organisation’s 12-year-old Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and its support of a passive system that would prevent an inebriated driver from starting their vehicle.
In November and December, Waymo will join with MADD to promote MADD’s “tie one on for safety” effort. MADD asks participants to attach a red ribbon to their cars as a reminder that a sober driver must be a feature of all holidays festivities.
Waymo will “tie” a magnetic red ribbon to all its self-driving vehicles in Phoenix and the Bay Area, two key markets where autonomous cars are undergoing testing.
Beyond pushing for a drunk-driverless future by partnering with an ambitious tech company such as Waymo, MADD is continuing its ongoing work to curtail drunk driving in conventional vehicles, of which there are obviously many more in the road.
“We support law enforcement and high-visibility enforcement events, like the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative, to deter drunk drivers and get them off the road when needed,” Griffin said. “Law enforcement truly is the first line of defence against drunk driving.”
Griffin also said that MADD has supported laws in 32 states to require convicted drunk drivers to use ignition-lock devices.
“So far, we have been wildly successful,” he said.