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December 11, 2012

NTSB calls upon all states to require ignition locks for all drunk drivers

As reported in this new AP article, today the National Transportation Safety Board has officially urged every state to "require all convicted drunken drivers, including first-time offenders, to use devices that prevent them from starting a car’s engine if their breath tests positive for alcohol."  Here is more:

The ignition interlock devices — already required for all convicted drunken drivers in 17 states — are the best currently available solution to reducing drunken driving deaths, which account for about a third of the nation’s more than 32,000 traffic deaths a year, the board said.

Drivers breathe into breathalyzers mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard. If their breath-alcohol concentration is greater than the device’s programmed limit — usually a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent or .04 percent — then the engine won’t start.

The board 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 technology, which is sometimes breath-based rather than touch-activated, is already in use in some workplace drug-testing programs.  If the technology were incorporated into all new vehicles, eventually all drivers would be alcohol-tested before driving.  That could potentially prevent an estimated 7,000 drunken-driving deaths a year, the board said.

The five-member board made the unanimous recommendations after receiving a new study from its staff that found an average of 360 people a year are killed when drivers turn the wrong way into the face of oncoming traffic on high-speed highways.  The board’s study analyzed data from 1,566 crashes from 2004 to 2009, as well as nine wrong way collisions NTSB directly investigated.  In 59 percent of the accidents, wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit, researchers said. In another 10 percent of the crashes, drivers had alcohol levels between .08 and .14.  The limit in most instances is .08....

Reducing drunken driving is perhaps the most obvious way to reduce wrong-way driving fatalities and injuries.  The board hosted a forum earlier this year on the problem of drivers impaired by alcohol and drugs.  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.

Lots and lots of prior posts on sentencing drunk drivers and advocacy for ignition locks:

December 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM | Permalink

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Comments

If public safety it the #1 purpose of government then the government should also require those who apply for any government license or beneift to give DNA samples and all cars should have government monitored GPS devices installed.

If you have nothing to hide.....

Posted by: Anon | Dec 11, 2012 3:44:07 PM

Public Buses Across Country Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations

By Kim Zetter @ Wired
12.10.12
4:46 PM

Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.

The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.

The use of the equipment raises serious questions about eavesdropping without a warrant, particularly since recordings of passengers could be obtained and used by law enforcement agencies.

It also raises questions about security, since the IP audio-video systems can be accessed remotely via a built-in web server (.pdf), and can be combined with GPS data to track the movement of buses and passengers throughout the city.

There is more @ Wired.

Posted by: George | Dec 12, 2012 3:18:33 PM

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