The latest weapon in the War on Drunk Driving has been unveiled:
Will All Autos Some Day Have Breathalyzers?
USA Today, April 25. Could the day be coming when every driver is checked for drinking before starting a car?
Widespread use of ignition interlock devices that won’t allow a car to be started if a driver has had too much alcohol, once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gives a qualified endorsement to the idea. New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009. And automakers, already close to offering the devices as optional equipment on all Volvo and Saab models in Sweden, are considering whether to bring the technology here.
The New York bill was introduced by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who also sponsored the bill that became the first law banning the use of handheld cellphones while driving. To those who say neither the public nor the technology is ready for such a universal application, Ortiz says he heard similar complaints about the cellphone ban and hands-free technology. He compares the criticism to early complaints about mandatory safety belts.
But Ortiz’s bill faces a tough fight. The idea of forcing every driver to pass a blood alcohol test to start a car raises privacy concerns, irritates non-drinkers and has some restaurant industry officials worrying about a march back to Prohibition, or at least the demonizing of social drinking.
MADD and others trying to reduce the 17,000 alcohol-related fatalities a year say ignition interlocks are the only sure way to separate potential drunken drivers from their “weapons”…
(Thanks to David Teddy.)