Convicted drink-drivers in America may soon have to fit a device that requires them to pass an in-car breath test before the engine will start and disables the ignition if it detects alcohol.
The scheme has been in force in New Mexico for first-time and repeat offenders over the past year, during which time there has been an 11.3 per cent decrease in alcohol-linked road deaths.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) called this week for similar changes in traffic laws in America’s other 49 states, some of which already use the so-called ignition interlocks, but only for drivers with multiple convictions. But these devices can be easily circumvented by the driver getting a sober friend to blow into the tube instead.
So car manufacturers and the federal government are reported to be backing research into a new generation of technology for detecting alcohol in a driver’s body. Saab is already testing a device that attaches to a key chain, while other transdermal sensors may be able to read alcohol content when a driver’s palm touches the steering wheel or the gear stick.
Even more advanced versions can detect when a car is weaving down the road while being driven by an impaired driver.