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Will cars soon come with an ignition interlock as standard?

Stopping people from driving drunk is difficult goal to reach. Alcohol is a permitted substance for those over the legal drinking age in Tennessee, and while the law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.08, thousands of drivers do it and thousands are arrested every year.

Some are only casual drinkers, who may have had one too many at a bar or a friend's home, and thought they could make it home. Tragic accidents occur every year, many of them single car crashes. Law enforcement employs often aggressive methods in an effort to reduce drunk driving, sometimes stepping over the line, beyond that which is constitutionally permitted.

Another avenue is that of technology. The use of ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers is increasing, and some jurisdictions use alcohol-monitoring bracelets that can detect if an individual has consumed any alcohol.

Ignition interlocks, which are a breath-testing device attached to your vehicle ignition system, which, if it detects alcohol in a driver's breath sample, will prevent the vehicle from starting.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) is considering proposals that would potentially mandate alcohol-sensing capabilities to be installed on all vehicles. The value proposition is this: their research indicated such a system could save 4,000 lives and $23 billion per year.

If such systems were deployed, they would need to be much more reliable than those currently used and would have to be able to distinguish between a driver who had too many drinks from one who overused perfume.

Given the immense savings, it is likely that the insurance lobby alone has a very strong interest in seeing this type of technology mandated for all vehicles.

Source:, "NHTSA Is Developing An Alcohol Detection System To End Drunk Driving: Would You Buy It?," Robert Read, June 5, 2015

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