​Vietnamese high-schooler makes breathalyzer that preempts drunken driving

The device refuses to switch on the motorcycle engine if it detects excessive alcohol levels

Nguyen Van Sy sits on a motorcycle equipped with his special breathalyzer. Photo: Tuoi Tre

An eleventh grader in a coastal region of south-central Vietnam has designed an alcohol tester mounted on the motorcycle able to prevent a drunken driver from starting the engine.

The breathalyzer made by Nguyen Van Sy, a student at Phan Chau Trinh High School in Quang Nam Province, may allow the user to start the motorcycle on which it is fixed only after the breath has been tested for alcohol content.

A warning sign from the device will appear and the motorcycle’s engine will be shut down, if the concentration of the substance exceeds the allowed threshold (0.2mg per liter of breath).

It also automatically makes a phone call to one of the rider’s relatives who can locate him or her thanks to a text message or real-time information from Google Maps.

“This device is very practical and can to some extent reduce the number of accidents that may occur to the rider and others on the road,” Sy said.

The product consists of four main components: a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen as an output, an alcohol or gas sensor known as MQ3 for the input, an Arduino board, and a relay.

The last one is connected to the motorcycle’s IC (Integrated Circuit), a piece of equipment that can ignite the engine.

The sensor measures alcohol content before sending signals to be processed by the Arduino board, which next dictates whether the relay activates the IC or not.

The screen shows the alcohol level and the conclusion of ‘Safe’ or ‘Unsafe,” which means the rider now can start or cannot start the vehicle.

However in the second case, a person with no previous consumption of alcohol can make the engine work simply by breathing into the breathalyzer.

The invention helped its creator, Sy, bring home the second prize in a local competition on science and technology intended for middle and high schools in December 2017.

Sy said he germinated the idea of an alcohol tester after many of his family members had been hospitalized due to accidents caused by drunken driving.

It took several months for the idea to take complete physical shape.

The product was hailed with praise from his relatives and neighbors, who have installed it on their motorcycles.

“Many policemen were also interested in the device and wanted to introduce it to the audience in talks about traffic regulations,” he said.

The student achieved two awards on technological invention during his years at the middle school earlier.

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