Ignition Locks Recommended for All Drunk Driving Offenders
Looking to limit accident fatalities caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a recommendation to implement ignition interlock devices for all drivers convicted of a DUI, including first time offenders.
In a new policy recommendation handed down from the National Transportation Safety Board, federal regulators are asking for ignition interlock devices to be installed for all drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, even first time offenders. These devices are considered to be the best available solution for limiting drunken driving accidents, and are already required for convicted DUI drivers in 17 states. Current versions require would-be drivers to breath into a breathalyzer mounted onto the dashboard of their cars before starting the engine. If breath-alcohol levels are determined to be above the predetermined limits for the device, usually between 0.02% and 0.04%, the engine will not start.
The NTSB is also pushing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research and development efforts with automakers to design systems that can determine a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration through an infrared light when the ignition button is pressed. When this infrared light detects alcohol levels beyond a set limit, the system will prevent the starting of the engine, much like the breathalyzer system, though much simpler. Iterations of this technology are already being implemented for workplace drug screenings today.
When a design is completed for automobile use, they can then be implemented on all new cars, meaning that theoretically, every driver would be alcohol-tested before driving. With such a comprehensive system in place, the NTSB believes as many as 7,000 accident fatalities could be eliminated each year. An estimated 32,000 traffic deaths are reported annually, and as many as one third are caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol, making it one of the largest killers on the road today.
The five board members that make up the NTSB reached their unanimous decision about the ignition lock recommendation after analyzing data from more than 1,500 crashes reported from 2004 to 2009 and identifying a dangerous trend. Through their research, it was discovered that an average of 360 people are killed each year in wrong way accidents, and in 59% of those accidents, wrong way drivers had blood-alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit. Another 10% had levels between 0.14% and 0.08%, still above the 0.08% limit. "Wrong-way crashes shatter lives and families," says NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, who called the board’s recommendations a milestone. “These technologies hold great promise to be a game-changer in highway safety.”
Until ignition these ignition locking devices are made standard on all vehicles in the future, drivers will remain at risk from drivers under the influence of alcohol and other substances like illicit drugs. For those who have suffered injuries in accidents involving such impaired drivers, the process of recovery can be both long and painful. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place to help victims get what they need to mend the damages they have sustained. With the help of a highly trained car accident lawyer, compensation can be earned from those at fault to help victims back onto their feet.
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