Fatalities stemming from DUI-related car accidents are steadily on the rise, despite the enforcement of harsher penalties and fines for offenders. Perhaps this increase is what prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to release an advisory that all states should implement the use of ignition locks for motorists convicted of drunk driving. The press release, disseminated this month, says the locks are actually specially designed devices meant to prevent a car's engine from starting if the driver fails a breathalyzer test. Under the recommendations by NTSB, the lock requirement should even be extended to first time offenders. It seems that several states have already put a similar plan into effect.
According to Associate Press reporter Joan Lowry, approximately 17 states already require the locks for all convicted drunk drivers. The devices are seen as the best "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." They are not at all difficult to operate. Writes Lowry, "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 0.02 percent or 0.04 percent -- then the engine won't start." There is even talk of one day installing the engine locks into all new vehicles, which would mean that eventually all drivers would be subject to testing before cranking up their motors.