Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report that shows a slight decline in drunk driving fatalities — a 2.5 percent drop from 2010 to 2011. Yet, of all traffic fatalities, alcohol remained a factor in 30 percent of accidents, accounting for more than 9,800 deaths.
There have been years of effort to combat drunk driving with mixed results. No matter what the consequences, many people decide that they will be fine driving home drunk “just this once,” and when nothing happens, it becomes a frequent occurrence. In fact, in various surveys, 8 to 13 percent of adults admit to driving drunk in the last year. It’s no wonder, then, that drunk driving causes so many fatalities every year.
The problem does not seem to be going away with public announcements and education. That is why the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has suggested that we work to stop the possibility of drunk driving altogether by developing ignition interlock technology for all cars.
Currently, most states require repeat drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their cars. Drivers must blow into these devices and show they do not have alcohol on their breath before they can start their car’s engine. Some states require ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders. The NTSB would like to see the remaining states follow suit.
They would also like to see car companies begin to develop and install technology similar to, yet less intrusive than, IIDs. The systems would collect a number of signals from the driver, including sensors on the steering wheel, to determine whether a person is driving drunk.
There are, of course, privacy rights concerns with the NTSB’s recommendations, but it is clear that something more must be done to stop our population from driving drunk.
Source: The Car Connection, “NTSB suggests alcohol detection systems on all new cars,” Richard Read, Dec. 17, 2012