Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freight Truckers Note - Alcohol Locks Are Coming

And None Too Soon
Shipping News Feature

US – WORLDWIDE – It is over a year since we first wrote on the subject of devices designed to completely eliminate the global evil that is drunk driving, an unnecessary problem that kills over 10,000 people in the United States alone every year. At the time there was speculation that governments lacked the political will to make such devices a compulsory feature on all new vehicles and only in Scandinavia did it seem that this would be the case.

Impaired driving is involved in 32 percent of all crashes on American roads. But an ignition interlock system that blocks a convicted drunk driver's vehicle from starting when that driver is impaired can prevent many of those crashes and save lives.

Now however the campaign which Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched in 2006 is beginning to have the desired effect. Although the US is fighting shy of federal legislation it seems individual states are beginning to take independent action. This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control met with members of the Governors Highway Safety Association for a National Ignition Interlock Summit. This was a full-day work session to help state safety professionals figure out how to get a handle on drunk driving.

The Department of Transportation has been a strong supporter of this campaign, and in the last four years, interlock use has more than doubled from approximately 100,000 in 2006 to 212,000 in 2010. This figure however covers only a small percentage of the 1.4 million drunk drivers arrested last year in the US, and those were the ones who were caught.

Today, all states except Alabama and South Dakota have laws that authorize ignition interlock use for at least some offenders. Yet we know that one-third of those 1.4 million arrests involve repeat offenders, and we know that many fatal drunk driving crashes also involve repeat offenders. That's why thirteen states to date have passed mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk drivers--including first offenders. Now the Department of Transport has announced its intention to put its full support and technical capabilities behind states who wish to increase their interlock use and strengthen their laws and interlock programmes.

Readers, particularly freight companies whose heavy trucks can be so much more deadly than any car in accident situations should read our original article to learn more and see a successful case history involving such devices. Perhaps it is time that more governments used common sense to enforce the adoption of a simple technical measure which has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.

Photo: Courtesy of the US Department of Transport – another pointless avoidable crash scene.