False: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will install kill switches to all new cars in the U.S. by 2026.

By: Ankita Kulkarni
January 4 2023

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False: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will install kill switches to all new cars in the U.S. by 2026.


The Verdict False

The act requires installing technology to detect alcohol-impaired drivers as standard equipment in all new cars, which is mistaken for a kill switch.

Claim ID bc0e9b03


U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) into law in November 2021. The law aims to create job opportunities across the country by investing money to develop, maintain and upgrade the country's roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructures. This legislation aims to reduce drunk driving fatalities by incorporating "advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology" in all new cars as standard equipment. 

Following this, several posts on social media recently claimed that this law would install "kill switches" in the cars, allowing the law enforcement department to collect car data and shut down the vehicles remotely. One such post shared by user Wall Street Silver on January 1, 2023, carries a screenshot of an article headlined, "Law will install kill switches in all new cars." The post also links a report stating it as a source. Some other Twitter posts also allege that these devices are means of the government to control people and disable their cars. However, these claims are incorrect and have misinterpreted the law.  

In Fact

We analyzed the source article mentioned in one of the viral posts. The link directs to a report on Yahoo Autos — an opinion piece written by an author named Steven Symes. Symes claims that kill switches will be installed in cars to collect people's data. He quotes former U.S. Representative Bob Barr, implying that in the law, "the term 'impaired driving' isn't defined by the legislation so that it would be open to interpretation by regulators." However, these claims don't accurately reflect the tool's functionality or what the law says.

The law indeed aims to develop technology to monitor a driver's behavior or blood alcohol concentration to identify if the driver is impaired, according to a document released by the government. It also looks to prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected. But kill switched will not be installed, as claimed in the viral posts, and neither does the law talk about giving access to these technologies to law enforcement agencies. 

According to an article by the technology news website The Next Web, which republished from The Conversation notes, two categories of technologies are currently in place to prevent drunk driving. One is the driving monitoring and assistance system that monitors a driver's steering, braking, driving trajectory, and head and eye movements. In an emergency, these things work together to prevent a crash. The second is a breath-based system that determines a driver's blood alcohol content from normal breathing in the car. Another touch-based system uses sensors in the ignition button or gear shift to determine a driver's blood alcohol content below the skin surface. If any of these systems detect the alcohol content to be over the limit, the car will stop or not start, warning the driver or directing the driver to stop or take the car off the road. 

A similar fact check on the claim, published by AP news in March 2022, quotes a researcher at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Injury Research and Policy, Jeffrey Michael. He says, "None of the technologies currently in development would notify law enforcement of the data collected inside vehicles or give government agencies remote control of vehicles." He added that these technologies have "nothing to do with giving law enforcement access to a kill switch." It also notes the CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, Robert Strassburger, clarifying that "the data collected about the vehicle by the technologies would never leave the vehicle."

Kill switches are devices/buttons installed inside the motor by an owner that are disengaged by pressing the button. They are anti-theft devices that prevent the car from starting. An article published by CBS 42 notes that these switches are hidden by the car owners, preventing anyone from being able to start the car but can only start by pressing the button. All the manufacturers do not install these devices/switches; instead, they are customized by the owners to prevent their cars from theft. The report also quoted Eric Dooley, a local automotive service agent, saying that "kill switch cost ranges from $250 to $350 installed, and an alarm system can cost as little as $450." 

There is no mention of a kill switch in the new U.S. law, nor does it mention allowing law enforcement agencies to access drivers' or owners' data. 

The Verdict

A part of the infrastructure law signed by Biden is being misinterpreted; in reality, it ensures the installation of technology to detect alcohol-impaired drivers for safety reasons. Law enforcement will not be able to access the data collected in the car, and the vehicle will not be able to be controlled by people or anything else outside the car. Additionally, these technologies would be inbuilt during manufacturing, whereas owners customize kill switches. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before