This is from USA Today in 2006
By Tom Kimmell for USA TODAY
Steve Carter's car won't start if the breathalyzer in it registers a blood alcohol above 0.01. He volunteered for it after his third drunken-driving arrest.
• About one in every 80 drunken-driving trips leads to an arrest.
• Nearly half of drivers in car crashes in 2004 with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 — the legal limit — or above were driving with a suspended license.
• Drivers with blood-alcohol levels of 0.08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than were drivers with no alcohol.
• According to a Hamilton County, Ohio, study, recidivism in DWI offenders is reduced by 65% when the ignition interlock is used on offenders' vehicles.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, USA TODAY research
The Draeger Interlock XT alcohol detector for cars.
Enlarge Leslie Smith Jr., USA TODAY
The Draeger Interlock XT alcohol detector for cars.
By Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY
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.
Manufacturers are perfecting technology that could detect alcohol on the skin surface, eliminating the need for the current, cumbersome, blow-into-a-tube breath-analyzing systems. Current breathalyzers cost about $1,000. The newer systems are expected to cost about the same.
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."
"If the public wants it and the data support it, it is literally possible that the epidemic of drunk driving could be solved where cars simply could not be operated by drunk drivers," says Chuck Hurley, CEO of MADD, which is hosting its first conference on drunken-driving technology in June.
"What a great day that would be."
MADD doesn't currently support requiring the devices on all cars because it doesn't think the technology is ready. For now, the organization prefers requiring the devices, called ignition interlocks, for anyone convicted of a first drunken-driving offense.
About 70,000 ignition interlocks are on vehicles — most of them ordered by courts for repeat drunken-driving offenders.
Even without universal use, there's a huge potential market in the 1.4 million people who are arrested for drunken driving each year. Legislation is pending in at least 12 states that would require interlocks for some or all first-time offenders.
Driver sees it as 'a life preserver'
Steven Carter, a Colorado Springs-based photographer, voluntarily put one on his Honda Prelude last year after his third drunken-driving arrest since 1999. He had quit drinking but installed it as a "safeguard with me."
The decision was fortunate: Four months ago, Carter had a relapse and tried to drive his car after drinking at a bar.
It wouldn't start, so he took a cab home and went back the next day to get it. It still wouldn't start because he set his device to detect alcohol above a 0.01 blood-alcohol level.
Carter, 27, who is hoping to compete as a skier in the 2010 Winter Olympics, thinks interlocks should be required on all cars. He believes insurance company discounts for voluntary installation — which some interlock makers are pushing — would be a good place to start.
"Some of my friends see it as a toy, but in my opinion, it's more like a life preserver," Carter says.
State Farm Insurance spokesman Dick Luedke says interlock discounts wouldn't make much sense because "for the majority of our customers, installing one of these things would have absolutely no impact. For the person who does have the problem and does install (the device), if it does inhibit him from driving impaired, that's worth way more than a lower insurance rate."
Barry Sweedler, a former National Transportation Safety Board official, is trying to persuade automakers to put the wiring for ignition interlocks in all cars to make it easier to install the devices. And once interlocks can automatically check alcohol levels without any action from drivers, Sweedler thinks they should be standard equipment on cars.
Current technology requires a driver to blow heavily into a breathalyzer device before starting the car and regularly while driving. With that system, "Unless a person is an offender, to require it for everyone is too intrusive," says Sweedler, past president of an anti-impaired-driving group that has sponsored ignition interlock conferences for the past six years.
George Ballance, director of sales and marketing for device maker DraegerSafety, says his company advocates interlocks as part of teen driving laws and insurance company discounts.
"We want to get on the preventive side of the cycle and not just be on the court-ordered side," he says.
Draeger encourages its employees to carry pocket breath analyzers and would fire any worker convicted of drunken driving.
"We're not here to say, 'Don't drink.' We're here to say 'Don't drink and drive,' " Ballance says.
Opposition to breathalyzers
Such talk makes John Doyle, executive director of the American Beverage Institute, cringe. "This campaign is a lot further down the pike than people realize," says Doyle, whose group is funded by chains including Outback Steakhouse and Chili's and is leading the opposition to broader use of interlocks.
He says the existing devices are costly and easy to defeat, by getting someone else to blow into them or using an air compressor instead of a driver's own breath. Besides, he says most drunken-driving deaths are caused by hard-core offenders who have slipped through the system.
"How far are you going to go to reduce alcohol-related fatalities?" Doyle asks. "Maybe they should make driving at night illegal."
Opposition comes from other sources, too. Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU, says his group opposes laws that require judges to mandate interlocks for convicted drunken drivers. Rhode Island's Legislature is considering a bill that would require interlocks for second-time offenders and first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level above 0.15, which correlates to drinking seven drinks in an hour for a 170-pound male.
"Our concern about mandatory penalties is that they don't allow courts to take all situations into account, including that the cost is quite significant and the effect it has on family members," Brown says. "Some individuals can't afford it."
While automakers are working on interlock technology, they are cautious. General Motors safety chief Bob Lange says his company has been working on ways to integrate alcohol-detection devices into cars for 30 years, but still doesn't think any are close to ready for widespread use in this country.
"If the technology incorrectly restricts ... sober individuals, it is unlikely to be supported," says Lange, who says systems must be "transparent" to non-drinkers. "Public acceptance and technological viability are essential."
Sue Cischke, Ford Motor's safety chief, agrees obstacles remain. "Some of the challenges include designing a system that is most of all accurate, not easily disabled or avoided, is easy to use and does not create driver-distraction issues."
Swedish brands Volvo, owned by Ford, and Saab, owned by GM, are at the forefront of auto industry efforts to incorporate interlocks into cars. Swedish regulators are expected to soon propose a deadline of 2012 for all cars in that country to have alcohol interlocks.
Volvo's Alcolock — which is built into the seat belt buckle — will likely be available as an option on cars in Sweden within three years. Saab's Alcokey has the technology built into the key.
For automakers, anything that keeps a car from starting sounds too much like the public relations nightmare that came out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 1973 decision to require devices that would prevent cars from starting if seat belts weren't buckled. After a huge public outcry and widespread disconnections, Congress passed a law the following year prohibiting NHTSA from requiring seat belt interlocks or warning buzzers lasting more than eight seconds.
Some critics say alcohol-related interlocks would be even more problematic than seat belt interlocks because about 40% of adults say they don't drink at all. MADD's Hurley says most people don't steal or have their cars stolen, but keys still have built-in anti-theft technology.
Ortiz agrees: "This is a tool that will save lives. We have to stop putting parameters on it."
Ortiz disputes claims that the technology is not ready, but even interlock makers don't think their systems should be offered on all cars — yet. Albuquerque-based TruTouch Technologies, which makes a device that detects alcohol using light rays through the surface of the skin, will introduce a version for use in police stations next year to replace breathalyzers. CEO Jim McNally says he is talking to automakers about offering his system as an option, but not until at least 2010.
New Mexico, which has the toughest interlock law in the country, isn't ready to go as far as Ortiz is proposing. Last year, New Mexico passed the first law requiring interlocks for first-time drunken-driving offenders after earlier debating — and rejecting — mandatory installation in all vehicles.
Wary of 'annoying' car buyers
Volvo technical safety adviser Thomas Brobergsays he isn't sure mandating interlock technology is the way to go: "It might not be good to force these kinds of systems onto customers. There are quite a few things that can be quite annoying to the customer."
Jim Champagne, a former Louisiana state police lieutenant colonel who spent decades responding to drunken-driving crashes and now chairs the Governors Highway Safety Association, is guardedly optimistic about the prospects for interlocks.
Champagne says he would "love to see" optional interlock devices offered.
"It would give an opportunity for parents and guardians to get more involved," he says. But as standard equipment on all cars? "To tell the American public this is going to be on your car? No way."
This is from Washington Post today
New technology could put an end to drunken driving, officials say
By Ashley Halsey III June 4 2015
A technological breakthrough that could virtually eliminate the drunken driving that kills 10,000 Americans each year was announced Thursday by federal officials, who said it could begin appearing in cars in five years.
The new equipment won’t require a driver to blow into a tube, like the interlock devices some states require after drunken-driving convictions. Instead, either a passive set of breath sensors or touch-sensitive contact points on a starter button or gear shift would immediately register the level of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Drivers who registered above the legal limit wouldn’t be able to start the car.
“The message today is not ‘Can we do this?’ but ‘How soon can we do this?’ ” said Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “It is a huge step forward.”
Eager to introduce an advance that would rival seat belts or air bags in saving lives, Rosekind said he would push to get the technology finalized, field tested and put into use before the five to eight years anticipated by researchers.
Though no cost-per-car estimate has been made, once the sensors go into general production it’s anticipated the cost will be equal to that of seat belts or air bags, about $150-$200 per vehicle.
Asked whether there would be a federal effort to mandate use of the devices in all new vehicles, Rosekind said he wasn’t sure that would be necessary.
“There’s not going to be a parent who isn’t going to want this in their child’s car,” he said. “There’s not going to be a business that’s not going to want this in their vehicles.”
NHTSA, safety advocates and automakers discussed whether the necessary technology was feasible for years. Researchers funded by auto manufacturers and federal safety regulators now have determined that it works.
[Too drunk? Your car won’t go along for the ride.]
They have developed passive sensors that detect how much a driver has had to drink, but are working on how best to package the sensors inside a vehicle. They have determined how to package touch-sensitive devices but still need to refine the technology to ensure accuracy.
“Touch-based could happen faster because we know how to package it,” said Rob Strassburger, head of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group for the world’s major auto companies.
The advances that lead to Thursday’s announcement at NHTSA headquarters were made at a Boston laboratory run by Bud Zaouk.
“These devices have to be quick, accurate and easy to use for the automakers to put them on their platforms,” Zaouk said.
The goal is to produce a device that will react in less than a second and function without maintenance for at least 10 years or 157,000 miles. Sensors that detect alcohol levels in the air can react in less than a second after a driver gets into the vehicle.
The technology is an offshoot of advances in sensory detection since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With sudden demand for bomb detection sensors, the ability of machines to scan people, packages and luggage for tiny trace elements has expanded exponentially.
The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association, opposes the alcohol detection system.
“Today, NHTSA, MADD, and major auto makers presented what they claim will be a voluntary system ... a description that directly contradicts their own past statements,” the organization said in a statement.
Though Rosekind said he didn’t think it would be necessary to make the system mandatory, he did not preclude that option. MADD is unambiguous in its belief that the system belongs in all vehicles.
In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in car crashes involving drunk drivers, federal data shows. That was less than half the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths recorded in 1982, when 21,113 people were killed. In the past 30 years, 401,404 people have died in drunken-driving crashes.
Colleen Sheehey-Church, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told an audience at NHTSA that included scores of her group’s members about the 2004 death of her son, who drowned in the back seat of a car driven into a river by a drunk driver.
“This is the future,” she said, gesturing toward a vehicle equipped with prototype detection gear, “when drunk drivers will be unable to drive their cars. If this technology was available in 2004, my son, Dustin, might be alive today.”
This is the estimate of distracted driving deaths: According to federal statistics, 3,328 people died in distracted-driving crashes in 2012.
This from the same source that gives you the MADD stats, the CDC again the same group that has an immense focus on alcohol problems in America and often claim Americans are drunken bums every other week while ignoring major and more dangerous illnesses.
Now we already know that data out is as good as the data in. So in reality we have no idea how many accidents were related to drunken driving as we do with devices and distracted driving.
With regards to "drunk driving" the NHTSA does not distinguish if the accident was the fault of the drunken driver or that even alcohol caused the accident as as again any presence of alcohol in anyone in the accident is considered a "drunken driving accident" And by the way that does not distinguish drugs as that is also counted as "alcohol" as it is driving under the "influence" Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.*
And this is the agenda of your friends at MADD and their offshoot governmental agency NHTSA and by the way it is has been in most states for quite some time and continues to escalate. And MADD wants prohibition. No one wants drunk driving but what is exigent? And are all drivers drunk and demonstrate at risk behavior at the arbitrary randomly picked .08? And that is not low enough as you can see from their below agenda
Actively enforcing existing 0.08% BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states
Promptly taking away the driver's licenses of people who drive while intoxicated.10Using sobriety checkpoints.
Putting health promotion efforts into practice that influence economic, organizational, policy, and school/community action.
Using community-based approaches to alcohol control and DWI prevention.
Requiring mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment, if needed, for DWI offenders
Raising the unit price of alcohol by increasing taxes.
Areas for continued research:
Reducing the illegal BAC threshold to 0.05%.
Mandatory blood alcohol testing when traffic crashes result in injury.*define injury
There are elements here that the Supreme Court has ruled a violation of civil rights and in States they too are beginning to realize that at some point where is this about safety and again about generating money? And if this device does in fact utterly "eliminate"drunk driving a major cash cow for municipalities then what will MADD do? And the NHTSA how can they in turn manipulate and extort states to comply to their extortion that federal highway funds (how little that really is needs investigation) be withheld unless meeting a certain quota of DUI violations? States got to pay those bills and the traffic violations not related to drunks and their driving are already under the microscope, so what is next?
Now here is the data from the National Motorist Association.
The truth is closer to 10% of all highway fatalities are CAUSED by drunk drivers. This isn't good, but let's at least put the issue in perspective. Our government and certain self serving "non-profit" organizations have exaggerated this problem beyond any sense of reality to promote an agenda that eliminates basic individual rights, undermines our system of due process and heaps onerous penalties on people who have not injured anyone and may not have met any reasonable standard of "impairment."
So where do the numbers that we hear being repeated time after time come from? The "government speak" term is "alcohol-related." This term was created to deliberately mislead and confuse the general public about the magnitude of the drunk-driving problem. When you hear some "expert" state that 40 or 50 percent of all fatal accidents are "alcohol related," the intention is to make you believe that drunk drivers are responsible for causing all these fatalities. This is pure propaganda.
The federal government defines an alcohol-related fatal traffic accident as an accident where someone died and a person involved in the accident had some measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system. For example, a sober driver hits a pedestrian who has been drinking, even modestly. That's considered an alcohol-related accident. A sober driver rear-ends a driver that has had something to drink. That's considered an alcohol-related accident. A man has a drink before committing suicide in his vehicle. That's an alcohol-related accident. A driver has a single drink and is involved in a fatal accident that he did not cause. That's considered an alcohol-related accident. Do these sound like "drunk-driver-caused" accidents to you? That's what the government and the anti-drinking organizations would like you to believe.
Add the interlock devices to all cars..a car that can know that your breath is .08, that specific or in fact just alcohol? And it is able to distinguish booze from all the other factors that can cause breath to smell of alcohol? Wow what is next? How about those cars that know if you texting, high on Xanax or Pot? MADD doesn't care about you. They manipulate you with distorted facts, junk science and of course knee jerk emotions.
Do you have to be drunk or high to be a bad driver? What appropriate acronymed group will form to support the rights of Americans to be utter idiots and in turn actually be accountable for their behavior and in turn find ways to never put people at risk? Well that will never happen as that is why they are idiots.
You cannot legislate out idiots by condemning all people with the same narrow brush to paint a broad picture.