Use of Ignition Interlocks on the Rise: 10,000 More Last Year.
US motor vehicle laws are state laws, and as such, they vary according to each state’s priorities and culture. But one trend is clear: the use of ignition interlocks increasing by the year, all over the country. The most recent ignition interlock survey by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA Inc. (TIRF) shows that use of the devices has grown by 10,000 in the 12 months that ended last August.
An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Interlocks for All Offenses: A National Trend
Currently well over half the US states mandate ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenses. All-offender interlock laws (as opposed to ones that mandate the devices only for repeat offenders) was a trend that took time to catch on. New Mexico and Nevada were first off the mark: they passed an all-offender law in 2005. Other states eventually followed, mostly after 2010. Currently the number stands at 29. California, which has the most cars and drivers in the country, will begin mandating the devices for all drunk drivers in 2019. That state alone will probably account for a large increase in the number of interlock devices in use when their all-offender law takes effect.
Why Interlocks Are a Popular Solution: They Work
Since the first law against drunk driving was passed in the US in 1910 society has been trying to find ways to prevent people from getting behind the wheel after their faculties have been impaired by alcohol. Most efforts have centered around punishment: jail terms, fines, and mandatory alcohol education are standard measures designed to make an offender reconsider his or her choices.
An ignition interlock is the only approach that actually prevents a drunk driver from taking to the road. The devices have been proven to reduce recidivism and lower the number of alcohol-related road collisions.
The TIRF ignition interlock report tabulates the number of ignition interlock installations, which has grown. Another recent report, by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, keeps track of the number of drunk driving incidents that have been prevented by the devices. That number stands at 2.3 million – a statistic that illustrates the effectiveness of these remarkable devices.
We fully expect for 2017 to yield another bumper crop of ignition interlock installations, as news of this report and other measures of success are publicized. While drunk driving remains a stubborn problem in this country, this report is evidence that state governments are trying to do something about it.