Ignition Interlock Makers Lobbying Congress to Require Them in All Cars

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on July 13th, 2011

I’ve posted in the past about ignition interlock devices (IIDs) — those small, cheap breath testers that are installed in a car’s dashboard and require periodic breath tests from the driver for the engine to function.  See, for example, Will Ignition Interlock Devices End Drunk Driving?.  I’ve also written about how these devices are unreliable and even dangerous on the highways.  See, Ignition Interlocks: Dangerous But Profitable.     

I’ve written about how MADD has been lobbying hard for mandatory installation of these IIDs in all vehicles, their CEO even claiming that they will "eliminate drunk driving once and for all".  See, All U.S. Cars to Have Ignition Interlock Devices? and Finally: An End to Drunk Driving.  And I’ve shown that MADD’s own IRS returns show that three of the six largest contributors to the organization are Nissan North America, Daimler Chrysler and General Motors — all of  which stand to make fortunes from installing these devices.  See, The Truth About Ignition Interlock Devices.    

Following is a Washington Post story from a couple of days ago, showing how IID manufacturers are now also using lobbyists in Washington to get bills passed requiring IIDs in all cars.


Steering Hill Leaders to Drunken-Driver Devices

Wash., DC.  July 10 –As House leaders prepare to roll out a massive six-year highway funding bill, among the many interests watching with anticipation are a handful of businesses that have pressed for a requirement that could take them from cottage industry to multimillion-dollar market overnight.

The campaign by the manufacturers of in-car devices to test blood alcohol levels is representative of a particularly successful model of lobbying in which for-profit businesses align with altruistic activist groups to implement government regulations that create a captive market for their products.

A bill that would withhold up to 5 percent of each state’s highway funding unless that state requires such as device in the cars of all convicted drunken drivers was introduced in the Senate in February by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, and last month in the House by Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat.

For the past 18 months, lobbyists for "ignition interlocks," as they are called, have jockeyed to inject a provision into the crevices of the transportation reauthorization bill, a tentative outline of which was released Friday by Rep. John L. Mica, Florida Republican…

The Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers hired lobbyist David Kelly, a former chief of staff and acting administrator at the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Mr. Lautenberg’s former chief of staff, Tim Yehl, now lobbies for Ignition Interlock Systems of Iowa…

 The manufacturers are taking a page from a well-worn playbook: lobbying campaigns in which private companies advocate for government requirements that would make them rich by aligning with activist forces who provide moral pronouncements that are appealing to politicians and – once on the table – the public…


We all know what happens when corporate lobbyists start handing out big money to the politicians.  Now add the huge political clout of MADD….  

Expect to have an ignition interlock device in your car in the near future — whether you want one or not.


(Thanks to Robert B. MacLean.)
 

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