A new study from the University of Michigan claims that putting technology that prevents drunk drivers from starting a vehicle into every car and truck in the U.S. could save 59,000 lives and $343 million over 15 years. The study also claims that the U.S. could avoid 85 percent of crash deaths attributable to alcohol-impaired drivers over the 15-year implementation period. Researchers claim that after three years, the cost savings from the use of the technology could outweigh the expense of the devices.
Ignition interlock devices have been around since the 1960s. In recent years, some states have required that convicted drunk drivers use them. Proponents of the devices point out that recent technological advancements make alcohol-detecting sensors very easy for the driver to use, and could have a huge impact on preventing drunk driving accidents. It is unclear how much the devices would cost since currently this technology is only available as after-market equipment and does not come installed in any new vehicles for sale in the U.S.
In order for these devices to become standard, some experts say the technology needs to be perfected. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety have teamed up to develop a new type of technology that detects and prevents drunk drivers from driving. They want the technology to be a “seamless” part of the driving experience, using either fingerprints or a breath analysis to analyze whether a driver is safe to drive. The groups hope to offer this new technology as original equipment in new cars on a voluntary basis. However, in order to do so, automakers will have to be convinced that this technology is something consumers want and are willing to pay for.
The study from the University of Michigan found that the technology would be most beneficial for young drivers who are closer to the legal drinking age. Among drivers age 21 to 29, almost 500,000 deaths and injuries would be prevented, which accounts for 35 percent of total deaths and injuries for all age groups. Drivers less than 21 who consume alcohol would also benefit, with almost 200,000 deaths and injuries being prevented.
Whether or not this technology will one day become standard on all vehicles for sale in the U.S. remains to be seen. Many people who do not drink and drive may oppose the technology, claiming that they should not be forced to pay for those devices or deal with any hassle involved with the device, simply because others choose to drink and drive. However, people who do drink and drive are unlikely to admit they have a problem or need the device without either being ordered to use the equipment or it being standard on all vehicles.
Whatever happens with the technology, it’s undeniable that the U.S. has a drunk driving problem. In 2013, 10,076 people died in crashes related to drunk driving. While that is a massive number of lives lost, it does represent a 23 percent decline from a decade ago.
Drunk drivers can cause lifelong damage to an individual or a family. Their victims are often killed or seriously injured, and may require lifetime care. Individuals who are the victims of drunk drivers have the right to compensation for their damages. They can sue for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. The family members of those who are killed or injured can also obtain compensation.
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident in the San Francisco-Oakland area, call San Francisco personal injury attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. Micha Star Liberty will provide you with a free consultation on your case. She helps clients throughout the Bay area, including Hayward, Sacramento, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, and the surrounding areas. Call to learn more.