New Roadblocks to Drunk Driving
Although alcohol-related driving fatalities in the United States plummeted between 1982 and 1994, largely as a result of the efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), they have since plateaued around 17,000 a year.
The stalling of the downward trend in alcohol-related driving fatalities has prompted MADD to launch what it calls an “audacious” campaign to end drunk driving largely by using technology that may someday make it impossible to start a car when the driver is drunk.
One example of this technology, ignition interlocks, are often ordered by judges for repeated DUI offenders as a condition of their probation after their driver’s license has been reinstated. But now MADD is pushing for the use of interlocks for all convicted first-time offenders, a move that it says could save 1,600 lives a year.
The increased use of interlocks could eventually pave the way for devices that could be installed in all new cars to help prevent drunk driving.
Experts say devices that do not have Breathalyzers or require any action on the driver’s part hold the most promise.
One such device is a touch-based alcohol monitoring system that measures alcohol through the skin using infrared spectroscopy. The technology, developed by New Mexico-based TruTouch Technologies, would include a touchpad placed on a steering wheel or keychain that would measure the driver’s alcohol level and transmit the information to the ignition system.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Los Angeles Times (12/18/06); P. F1; Roan, Shari.