Device would prevent most drunk driving deaths
In the US, only people who have been convicted of a DUI are required to get an ignition interlock device installed in their cars to prevent them from driving drunk. But now, researchers at the University of Michigan Injury Center say that if this kind of device was installed in all new cars, it could prevent up to 85 percent of all alcohol-related vehicle deaths.
An interlock device is a mini breathalyzer that is installed in the car and a driver must breathe into before turning on the ignition. If a driver’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, the car will not start.
The Michigan study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, evaluated the effect interlock devices would have over a 15-year period. Researchers used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Automotive Sampling System’s General Estimates System to study vehicle crashed between 2006 and 2010. Based on that data, over the next 15 years, interlock device could not only prevent 85 percent of alcohol related vehicle deaths, but also up to 88 percent of related non-fatal injuries. They estimated that this could translate to preventing 59,554 deaths and 1.25 million non-fatal crashes.
Researchers said that interlock devices would be most effective when used by young adults aged 21 to 29, who would make up 35 percent of the prevented deaths and injuries. They also noted that the $400 device could prevent up to $343 billion in unintentional injury costs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes -- accounting for 30 percent of all motor vehicle deaths that year. They noted that 1,100 of these crashes involved a child 14 or younger.