Will This Prevent Drunk Driving?

In the interest of transparency, I want to say first off that I am experimenting with a pay for posting service called TheNewsRoom. TheNewsRoom is a website that pays bloggers to post news stories on their blogs. Supposedly each time a person views the video, news story or image, you (the blogger) gets a cut of the profits.

Now I’m not going to go insane and start spamming my own website with crap. If I wanted to do that, I would have joined Payperpost or Review Me or another service that pays bloggers to stuff their websites with craptastic spam. The difference with TheNewsRoom is that it is news and stuff that I would post and comment on anyway so why not make a dollar or two to help with hosting fees.

Anyway, on with the post…

So this news article is talking about getting breathalyser devices installed into cars that will lock the ignition if the driver of the vehicle if the blood alcohol level is over a certain limit. I’ve noticed that I have a habit of denigrating noble causes so in the interest of keeping up the tradition, I’m going to frown a little bit at this initiative.

Drunk driving is an issue that needs to be dealt with. It is a one hundred percent preventable crime which only takes a little bit of common sense and responsibility on the part of the driver to keep from becoming a statistic. Last year about 40 percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

I think installing breathalysers in cars is a fantastic idea except for a couple of problems:

1. Is the current technology good enough?

According to Wikipedia’s entry on Breathalyzers, these tests only measure a person’s Blood Alcohol Content and not their level of intoxication. It is generally assumed that people with a Blood Alcohol Content (or BAC) of a certain level, .8% in the US, means that a person is drunk. In fact, actual intoxication depends on a number of additional factors such as the person’s sex, body composition (height, weight) and experience with alcohol. It is a known fact that a person who drink a lot builds up a tolerance for alcohol and therefore could drink a lot more then say someone who only sips champagne on New Year’s Eve.

So because the machine says a person is alright to drive/impaired strictly based on their BAC could potentially be inaccurate. This is of some concern because a machine could unlock the ignition for someone who is under the limit yet really are too intoxicated to drive.

2. How do we overcome user error?

Unbelievably, not everyone is technologically savvy. Some people, for the love of all that is scientific, still do not know how to program the time into their DVD players and thus have doomed themselves to a continuous flashing reminder of their own incompetence.

Police officers are specially trained in how to use these breathalyser machines. And while you can use technology to automate a lot of the processing, especially with it being installed in a car, the person still has to interact with it and if there is a way to mess up the results, rest assured someone will find it.

3. How do we overcome user manipulation?

This, by far, is the most pressing question. As far as I’ve seen, breathalyser tests do not take DNA samples to make sure that the person blowing into the device is the person actually doing the driving. So what, besides a sense of social duty, is to stop a sober person from blowing into the machine for the offender?

It can, and I’m sure does, happen. As noted in a previous post, there are people out there with some mental deficiencies and are quite capable of bullying, manipulating or otherwise getting another person to do something unethical for them.

I think that if we can overcome these issues, then installing a breathalyser in every car could be a great way of reducing and even eliminating the problem of drunk driving. Now if we can get a Fashionalyzer installed in mirrors that will tell men with beer bellies that wearing that speedo in public is not a good idea, then we will truly have Utopia.

Namaste 🙂

4 thoughts on “Will This Prevent Drunk Driving?

  1. What if the breathalyser malfunctions, therefore the car will not start. (How much is this going to cost us? And I don’t mean just to fix the device, but making us late for work or an important meeting, or for that mater, taking someone to the emergency room?) There could also be the concern about people who have asthma or other related health breathing problems. From what I understand, you have to blow into this device pretty hard to get it to register, and this could be an annoyance for these people. This raises privacy issues to me also. And what about people who seldom drink, and even when they do, would never get into a car and drive. But, I do think it would be a good idea for people that have been convicted on drunk driving before, but then again, if they wanted to, I think they could find away around it. (like you said, it does not show the DNA of the person who blows into the machine, so they could even get their child to blow into it, just so that they could go down to the local store to buy more alcohol.)

    I do think that this device might be good at a bar and other places where the public is served alcohol, and before a driver leaves the bar that they take the test. I cannot believe how many people I have seen walk out of bars stumbling drunk with no designated driver. My husband and I use to attend Octoberfest each year back in the 1900’s, and my husband would take the entire family to the function, go back home and take a taxi back to Octoberfest, and we generally stayed until closing. We then would call a cab to come get us. I was amazed that we and maybe two others were the only ones out of the hundreds that attended Octoberfest did this, and the others just got into their cars and drove home, many were sloppy drunk.

  2. The argument against this technology and all that “it depends on the person’s weight, height, blah blah blah” is a bunch of B.S.

    Even a teenie tiny amount of alcohol is enough to impair a driver, the most recent studies have shown. But so does texting and talking on a cell phone – both of those are lethal.

    Is there some gadget to stop people from doing that while driving? That would be brilliant.

  3. @ Katie,

    I think having these in bars is a great idea. Right now, bars and nightclubs rely on human interpretation of behavior via the bartender as to whether or not a person has had one too many. I think a breathalyser would be great as well as having a connection with a local taxi service of some kind that could pick up the people and take them home.

    @ Phoenix

    At one of the hospitals here in Maryland, they have a device that disables cell phone activity in certain parts of the building. Not sure how it does that but if somehow we could outfit cars with a device that disables all cellular activity when they turn the ignition then we really would have Utopia.

    Please feel free to send me links to the research you are referring. I did a little bit of research for this post but all of it talked about intoxication varying according to physical traits. I would love to read something that says differently.

  4. Hi Phoenix, I respectfully disagree with you. The weight and size of a person, if they drank on an empty stomach, what type of alcoholic beverage they were consuming, the time limit of doing so, etc. are all factors that register our BAC (blood alcohol consentration. This link is an excellent site and very informative on this subject. http://www.b4udrink.org/ It also has a virtual bar, and according to it, due to my weight and eating and what I drank as well as the time limit, I am legally drunk after 3 beers, while others are legally drunk with less, and some can drink more before being legally drunk. This is really an educational site concerning BAC and backed by many companies.


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