Sunday, November 26, 2023

Section 24220: Advanced Impaired Driving Technology

Jon Miltimore (Hacker News):

“Marketed to Congress as a benign tool to help prevent drunk driving, the measure will mandate that automobile manufacturers build into every car what amounts to a ‘vehicle kill switch,’” wrote Barr, who was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 2008.

[…]

To my relief, I saw several fact-checkers at legacy institutions had determined the “kill switch” mandate was not true.

[…]

Unfortunately, my relief evaporated once I looked at the bill itself.

Sec. 24220 of the law explicitly states: “[T]o ensure the prevention of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology must be standard equipment in all new passenger motor vehicles.”

The legislation then goes on to define the technology as a computer system that can “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle” and can “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected”.

Matt Posky:

There are now fact-checking websites that are designed to counter other fact-checking websites who likewise want to pretend to have the market cornered on factual information. In the end, the vast majority boils down to contradictory talking points and trying to shape a desired narrative. Nobody really knows what the legislation will bring into effect because the relevant decisions haven't been made yet by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

But what is certain is that the provisions included within the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will eventually result in some form of driver monitoring. That’s likely to come by either an ignition interlocking device that would require drivers to utilize a breathalyzer before setting off, or some kind of comprehensive driver monitoring system that uses audio-visual cues to determine the driver’s present status.

The latter seems the more likely option. Modern automobiles are already loaded up with microphones and are capable of transmitting control inputs, positional data, and plenty more back to the manufacturer. The automotive industry has also begun installing in-cabin camera systems to help track what occupants are doing. Originally, the concept was floated as a way to safeguard from distracted driving. But it’s also more lucrative info for an industry that now seems completely obsessed with data mining its own customers.

There are privacy implications if the data is shared and the possibility of abuse if the system can be remotely controlled. But, even ignoring those issues, there will be false positives. I turned off my 2023 vehicle’s lane keeping assist feature, which seems comparatively simple, because it often nudges in the wrong direction. The system will in some cases incorrectly identify erratic driving or not realize that there may be a valid reason for it. And, though the goal is to prevent deaths by disabling cars, immobilizing a vehicle could also be fatal for its occupants or for those of other vehicles that it’s blocking. You can mandate a secure golden key, but what you end up with may be something else entirely.

See also: Lauren Fix.

Previously:

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Thank you for the mention. Here is an interesting update:

House Republicans failed to defund a federal “kill switch” mandate Tuesday night requiring all vehicles produced in 2026 and onward to feature technology that can automatically disable the vehicle “if impairment is detected.” This lays the groundwork for corporate and government access to monitor and interfere with personal movement.

By a vote of 229 to 201, the lower chamber rejected an amendment proposed by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie to defund the mandate embedded in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Massie’s measure received 210 “no” votes from Democrats and 19 from Republicans. Just two Democrats supported the amendment and 199 Republicans voted for it. Eight members did not participate in the late-night vote.

Rep. Massie stated on X, “During debate last night on my amendment to defund the 2026 kill-switch mandate for cars, some Democrats claimed the technology wouldn’t monitor or disable cars.” He even read the actual law on the house floor. Has anyone else actually read this before voting for this clause - obvious not!

Massie noted that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of the most liberal members in the House, voted to remove the provision.

If this is implemented, how long until a woman trying to escape from an assault in her car ends up with a disabled car, because the car identified "erratic driving"?

This nonsense is insane. I rented a car recently.

All the automatic features, including lane assist, made it quite unbearable to drive. The lane assist kept beeping at me, even though it misunderstood where the road was. It tried to drive the car into a barrier along the road and into other cars along a motorway. It wanted me to drive in a lower gear, but then reliably stalled. It turned off at red lights to save gas, but then sometimes wouldn't start. It was also supposed to tell me the speed limit by recognizing it from the panels on the side of the road, but it got that wrong too. Indeed, there was a bush I drove past that reliably was detected as a 30km/h sign.

Needless to say, I'll be keeping my old car as long as possible, and if I have to upgrade, I'll have to figure how to rip out all this new functionality if I can't turn it off. It's ridiculous. The hardware was fine, but my god was the software awful...

@Old Unix Geek There’s a road near me that’s a state Route 120, which my car reliably detects as a 120mph sigh, even though such a speed limit exists nowhere in the U.S.. They didn’t even bother to sanity check the output.

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