Alcohol-impaired driving leads to crashes, injuries and fatalities, causing immense suffering for victims and their families. And it’s only getting worse.
According to the most recently available statistics, drunk driving deaths are on the rise. In 2020, 11,654 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes – an increase from 10,142 people in 2019 – even though there were significantly fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, 2021 saw a 5% increase on top of that.
These staggering numbers highlight the devastating impact of driving under the influence. To make matters worse, the financial burden of medical bills and funeral expenses can be overwhelming for the victims and their families.
This reckless and dangerous choice is entirely avoidable. In fact, sober driving solutions exist to reduce DUIs and to keep families and communities safer. Vital tools like Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are crucial to reducing drunk driving incidents that claim the lives of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends.
These devices are breathalyzer systems installed in a vehicle’s ignition system. The driver must blow into the device, which measures their breath alcohol concentration (BAC) level. If the BAC level is above the preset limit, the vehicle will not start.
Studies have proven the effectiveness of these devices at reducing drunk driving incidents, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified IIDs as a key strategy for reducing alcohol-impaired driving.
A 2017 study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Colorado School of Public Health found that state laws requiring the installation of ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders were associated with a 7% decrease in fatal crashes. The same study found that the presence of an IID lowered repeat offenses by 70%, when compared to offenders who did not have the devices installed.
Beyond the lifesaving goal of preventing drunk driving, IIDs also allow offenders to keep their driving privileges. The device enables offenders to maintain employment and keep providing for their families, while minimizing the risk of committing another offense.
Drunk driving is undoubtedly a serious problem that must continue to be addressed by increasing IID installations. The injuries and fatalities are heartbreaking, and the emotional distress for victims and their families is immeasurable.
By passing laws to expand this technology, we can prevent drunk driving and create safer roads for everyone.
Sabra Rosener is the VP of Legislative Affairs for Intoxalock, a manufacturer of Ignition Interlock Devices and member the Sober Driving Solutions coalition.