KEA’s technical expertise in Automobile Safety and Technology is extensive, deep and widespread. With decades of combined experience, business relationships, program execution, and knowledge - our highly skilled team of technicians, engineers and managers continues to develop innovative safety solutions for the automotive industry.
We leverage our exceptional OEM relationships in ways that virtually no other company can. One of our most recent programs is an innovative technology solution to the problem of alcohol-impaired driving. The program, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), is a private-public partnership between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) where KEA leads technical execution and project management.
At the national level, the DADSS Program focuses on research and development to advance the alcohol detection system technologies. KEA operates the DADSS Laboratory at our Headquarters facility in Massachusetts where we conduct mechanical and electrical equipment assessment, independent verification and validation, and environmental tests.
In addition to lab tests, KEA has equipped a fleet of vehicles with the most recent prototype sensors and supporting data acquisition system equipment to evaluate sensor performance in a live operational, on-road setting. At the beginning of a test day, paid participants are safely dosed with alcohol in a controlled environment. The participants interact with the sensors while professional drivers operate the instrumented vehicles along pre-determined routes. These unique tests are meant to validate in laboratory results and “stress test” the sensors to ensure survival in all of the harsh environments that vehicles operate.
At the local level, the DADSS program has several State partners including Virginia and Maryland. These projects with these States involve interactions with residents, stakeholders and potential future consumers to gage interest, solicit feedback and assess demand for the technology. These local projects also involve on-road tests with vehicles.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia drunk driving remains a major threat to all Virginia families and road users. In 2018, Virginia reported 7,181 alcohol-related crashes, 278 alcohol-related fatalities, 4,475 alcohol-related injuries and 19,790 DUI convictions on its roadways. Through Driven to Protect, Virginia continues to put the health and safety of its residents first by educating the next generation about responsible driving behavior and by advancing technology that can prevent additional drunk driving crashes, injuries, and deaths on its roads.
In fiscal year 2017, Virginia became the first state to use NHTSA highway safety grant funds to partner with the DADSS Program through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The partnership – Driven to Protect – is another example of the technological innovation happening in Virginia and the ongoing leadership the state is showing in the fight against drunk driving. In 2018, the Program partnered with James River Transportation (JRT) - a private company to conduct in-vehicle, on-road test trials of the DADSS technology.
KEA installed breath-based prototypes sensors into four vehicles in the JRT fleet. Through December 2019, the project has been operational 500 days, obtained over 45,000 breath samples, with vehicles driver 52,000 miles and sensors operating for more than 5,000 hours.