NTSB Wants Use of Ignition Locks to Become Nationwide Law (12/26/12)

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Adopting a nationwide law mandating the use of ignition locks has been suggested by the National Transportation Safety Board.   The lock requires a breathalyzer test to start a car engine and would prevent an intoxicated driver from getting on the road if they fail the test.

The board suggested that all states mandate the measure for all convicted drunken drivers including any first time offenders and considered the best available solution to reducing the more than 32,000 traffic deaths a year attributed to drunk driving.

The NTSB also urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up its research effort with automakers to develop systems that can determine a driver's blood alcohol concentration using infrared light when the driver presses an ignition button. The vehicle won't start if the alcohol concentration is too high.

The board's recommendations are likely to be strongly opposed by the alcohol industry. The American Beverage Institute, which represents about 8,000 chain restaurants in the U.S., said mandatory ignition interlock devices should be reserved for "hardcore" drunken drivers and it opposes the new technology that government and industry are researching.

Alcohol-impaired crashes overall accounted for nearly 31 percent motor vehicle fatalities 2010. And, that percentage has remained stuck between 30 and 32 percent of overall highway fatalities since 1995, board members said.

Safety advocates have been lobbying states to pass more laws requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, states that already have such laws on the books are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Missouri's law does take effect until next fall. Also, four California counties - including Los Angeles - have ignition interlock laws.

"The laws may vary some, but the common thread is that they are for all first time offenders," Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the association, said.

Source: Myfoxny.com, NTSB