Congress has mandated that automakers develop new technology to prevent drunk driving accidents as part of the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, according to a report Tuesday in the Associated Press.

Monitoring systems will be installed in new vehicles beginning in 2026 after the Transportation Department decides what technology is the best to use. The bill would allow $17 billion to be allocated towards road safety programs. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 20,160 deaths from car accidents in the first half of 2021, the highest number since 2006. The NHTSA also found that 10,000 people die in alcohol-related car crashes each year, accounting for 30% of total traffic fatalities. 

Convicted drunk drivers are required to drive with a breathalyzer in their car that is attached to the ignition, forcing them to blow into the tube and disable the car if the driver is intoxicated. The new legislation states that cars must “passively monitor the performance of a driver” to determine whether or not the driver is impaired.

Infrared cameras that monitor drivers’ behavior could prove to be the best way to prevent drunk driving. The cameras would monitor the driver and if signs of intoxication are spotted, the car’s hazard lights will turn on and pull over to the side of the road. The technology is already being developed by General Motors, BMW, and Nissan. 

Another promising technology is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which has been in development by 17 automakers and the NHTSA since 2008. It uses embedded sensors to determine the driver’s blood alcohol level through a breathalyzer that runs through an infrared beam calculating a driver’s BAC, and a touch-based system on the ignition and gear shift. The rollout, however, could still be years away. 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Alex Otte said Congress' new rule will “virtually eliminate the number one killer on America’s roads,” and described it as “the beginning of the end of drunk driving.”