by CIO Staff

MADD Pushes Technology to Stop Drunken Drivers

Nov 20, 20063 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an organization that works to stop individuals from operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, as well as build awareness of the issue, on Monday is expected to launch a new campaign—in conjunction with a number of other groups—under which it will propose that alcohol-detection technology be used by drivers to disable their automobiles if they are found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit, The New York Times reports.

The group expects to announce the first stage of the plan in Washington on Monday, and it is to be backed by a national association of state highway representatives and car producers, according to the Times. The initial phase includes an effort to modify existing drunken-driving regulations in 49 states to include a mandate that would order people convicted on drunken-driving charges to install devices that shut down their vehicles if alcohol is detected on their breath, the Times reports.

The devices, dubbed ignition interlocks, are already used in several states for people who’ve been convicted of drunken driving on numerous occasions, according to the Times.

New Mexico last year passed a law that requires first-time drunken-driving offenders to employ ignition interlocks, the Times reports, and it attributed its 11.3 percent drop in related fatalities last year in part to the use of the devices, though the regulation wasn’t official until June 17, 2005.

Bill Richards, New Mexico governor, called the devices “an integral part of our success,” according to the Times.

MADD and the other groups involved don’t think the devices are a complete solution to the drunken-driving problem in the United States, as they can easily be deceived if a sober passenger or bystander blows into the Breathalyzer tube, but they do say the ignition interlocks will likely reduce the number of repeat offenses, the Times reports.

The groups eventually want every vehicle to include a non-obtrusive form of ignition interlock that would test drivers for alcohol in a way that wouldn’t impede normal actions, according to the Times.

Saab, the automobile maker, is testing a form of ignition interlock in Sweden that fits on a keychain and disables cars when too much alcohol is detected, the Times reports.

MADD Chief Executive Officer Chuck Hurley suggested that car insurers may eventually offer discounts and additional incentives to individuals who employ such technologies, according to the Times.

The parties are also expected on Monday to detail a new initiative with the Department of Transportation aimed at boosting enforcement of drunken-driving laws and related penalties, the Times reports.

Officials within the Bush administration will also fund future research into the possibility of using technology to disable the cars of people with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit, though it hasn’t said to what extent it would back a widespread requirement like the one in New Mexico, according to the Times.

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