USU employee helps in passage of bill to curb impaired driving

Ken Snyder advocated for the passage of a federal law to improve vehicle safety. Photo courtesy of Utah State University.

LOGAN – A Utah State University employee was instrumental in the passage of a new federal law designed to dramatically prevent impaired driving.

Ken Snyder, the executive director of the Shingo Institute in USU’s Huntsman School of Business, lost his daughter Katie Snyder Evans to a drunk driver eight years ago.

After her death, he contacted friends in the automotive industry who told him there is existing technology that could prevent drunk driving. Then he contacted Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“When I got educated by my friends on that I contacted MADD,” Snyder explains. “I called up the head of their government lobbying group and said ‘I’ve got inside information about how we could use technology to prevent drunk driving; are you interested?’

“And he said yes. And I started working with MADD and over the course of the last couple of years I met with several dozen senators and members of congress and promoted this legislation that passed a few weeks ago.”

He said the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration will decide which of three different broad categories of technology will be used. He talks about the newest of these three.

“The bill calls for passive, meaning the driver doesn’t have to do anything,” says Snyder. “And there’s patented systems out there that have pin-holes in the steering wheel that can suck air in just as an interlock system would do, and then test it for alcohol content and determine whether it exceeds the acceptable limit, and refuse to drive, or be driven if you will, by the driver if the driver is impaired.”

The work of Snyder and others led to a provision of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, signed November 15, that requires the Department of Transportation to mandate new vehicles come equipped with technology that can eliminate the behaviors that are exhibited by impaired drivers.

He said new cars could be equipped with this technology by 2026.

For his role in the passage of the bill Snyder was honored last week by the Center for Auto Safety during a national awards broadcast.

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