I salute Newsday's editorial calling for "Anti-DWI gear in all new cars" [July 21]. Yet, as an engineer who has been working in transportation engineering since college, I suggest that the real challenge is impaired driving, not just drunken driving. Impairment -- whether from alcohol, drugs, pills, other substances, medications or illness -- is what makes drivers dangerous.
Technologies exist that would test a driver sitting behind the wheel for response time and suitability to drive. I was privileged while a student at Pratt Institute to design and prototype just such a system, which won several awards at a national intercollegiate safety car competition.
A random alert appeared on the dashboard before the car could be started, and if you couldn't hit the brake pedal fast enough, it was presumed you were not fit to drive. Other approaches could use steering wheel response smoothness. Any overshooting or overcorrection by the driver would indicate that he or she is impaired, and the vehicle would time out until a suitable driver was sitting behind the wheel.
This type of technology might add a few tens of dollars to the cost of most new cars, but these would easily be repaid in societal peace of mind, lives saved and insurance expenses reduced.
Richard Doherty, Seaford
Editor's note: The writer has served on the Presidential National Medal of Technology Nomination Committee.