March 30, 2012
The results of a new study may be pointing the government in the right direction toward lowering the number of accidents in the United States caused by drunk driving. Earlier this month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released data that showed requiring first time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles deterred repeat offenses.
Ignition interlock systems are alcohol-detecting breath tests that are wired to a vehicle’s ignition. The driver must blow into the device before attempting to start the vehicle. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start.
Researchers examined trends of repeat offenses in Washington, one of 15 states that require all DUI offenders to have the devices installed. They found that when all offenders have the devices installed, repeat offenses drop by as much as 12 percent.
There are several pieces of legislation before Congress now that would encourage states to have similar laws to Washington by linking the amount of highway funds a state can receive from the federal government to the regulations.
Anne McCartt, the Institute’s vice president, supported the findings and the new legislation by saying, “Drivers with previous impaired-driving convictions are overrepresented in alcohol-related fatal crashes, so deterring people from reoffending is a good first step to reduce the death toll.”