Alcohol Interlocks Saving Life’s
Ignition interlocks have been issued in forty-eight states. Presented on June 22, 2000 by Pennsylvania, Ignition interlocks are similar to in-car breathalyzers that measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). They prohibit the engine from starting if an alcohol-sensing device registers above a pre-set level, typically around 0.02 BAC. This ignition interlock act started at one state, from there it eventually grew to forty-eight today. Out of the forty-eight states, the interlocks are issued in only fourteen of those states. Interlocks are mandatory when one is convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or more. In the existence of ignition interlocks, the effort to keep drunk drivers off the road has only been a positive improvement. Some researchers believe the mandatory requirement of fourteen states should be much higher, if not forty-eight. Drunk driving fatalities has been a problem ever since automobiles were first invented, but ignition interlocks have been decreasing fatalities since 2000, with impressive results.
In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2010, 211 involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Although the numbers seem bad, that is much better then what they use to be. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Between 1991, when The Century Council was founded, and 2010, the rate of drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 population decreased 48% nationally. Ignition interlocks are a big contributor to that statistic. A retired police chief Richard J. Ashton, wrote a magazine called “Can Alcohol Ignition Interlocks Save Even More Lives?” According to Ashton, “alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined substantially from about 57 percent of 1966’s traffic deaths, or 29,061 persons, to approximately 32 percent of 2009’s traffic fatalities.” Obviously ignition interlocks have been doing the job, but what about the other contributors?
Organizations such as International Drunk Driving Prevention Association help decrease the amount of drunk drivers by touring the U.S. and presenting to their viewers what the dangers of drunk driving are. These organizations usually go after teenagers, particularly in high school and instead of telling them the dangers; they show the effect of drunk driving and the harm and stress it causes families all over the United States. Organizations like these believe it is smarter to use a presenter that is the same age or even from the same high school as the viewers, because they will have more common interests and the presentation might go smoother. These organizations have been around for a while now, and have been helping to decrease the fatalities. Many smaller organizations such as tipsy taxis and vans that transport intoxicated people help prevent drunk drivers from getting on the road. With the pros of ignition interlocks come some cons. Interlocks can cost from $75 a month, and also a couple of hundred dollars just to install. One major incident with the interlocks are that mouthwash (containing alcohol) can offset these devices and prevent you from getting to work in the morning or getting somewhere in an emergency. Some say even certain food may confuse the devises such as cinnamon and doughnuts. Are these problems enough to stop ignition interlocks?
Organizations help decrease the fatalities, but they don’t help to stop it. Think of an organization as someone who just lets people know that drinking and driving is bad, and causes thousands of deaths. Even with the efforts researchers say that it is becoming less and less effective to stand in front of thousands of student and lecture for hours. These days, students are becoming more and more impatient of presentations and usually don’t want to hear it. Most high schools require students to show up to these presentations, but do the students listen? Not enough. Although organizations use to be effective, they are becoming weaker in their attempts. What about adults? According to MADD (Mothers against drunk driving) “In fatal crashes in 2010, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for driver’s ages 21 to 24 (34 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (25 percent).” Many adults with offenses of drinking and driving are not given the knowledge by these organizations, and never will learn unless they are forced too. The minor problems of ignition interlocks such as mouthwash or foods that may confuse the machine can be easily fixed with just a rinse of water. I found no big enough evidence of ignition interlocks being so false that they should be removed from the law. Ignition interlocks may be updated and made less sensitive to foods or mouthwash, but these problems are not worth thousands of lives.
Ignition interlocks don’t ask you to stop drinking and driving, it also doesn’t worn you. Once you have made a mistake, you are forced to stop drinking and driving by this intelligent technology. The problem for these interlocks is that its not as strict as the fourteen states who require you to have them after the first offense, as the other states that only require you to have them after multiple offenses. Based on the evidence, interlocks have been doing an outstanding job, but are limited to how far they can go. If interlocks have made so much improvement in drinking and driving fatalities and are only strict in fourteen states, imagine what they would accomplish if they are issued in all fifty states, and are as strict as the fourteen now. Traditional ways have help prevent fatalities and put some sense in many people’s minds, but ignition interlocks stop drunk drivers from driving on the road unless they are not intoxicated, easy as that. Doing things old fashion is good, but a change in technology such as this may some day stop all drivers from driving with any alcohol in their system.
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