Interlock Devices Could Reduce Road Crashes, Fatalities

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Productive discussions with legislators signal progress on critical safety issue

BOISE – (February 7, 2017) – Technology is part of the answer to a growing number of impaired driving crash fatalities in Idaho, says AAA.

Idaho’s impaired driving crash fatalities increased 20.8% in 2015. In fact, impaired driving claimed four in every ten road fatalities, with an impaired driving crash resulting in a fatality every 4.2 days.

“Public education and enforcement programs are not enough to turn the tide,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Despite law enforcement’s best efforts to keep impaired drivers off Idaho roads, limited resources allow many drunk drivers to become repeat offenders, with deadly consequences.”  MADD reports that 52 percent of Idaho DUI arrests in a recent year were third-time offenders.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that impaired motorists drive an average of 80 times before being stopped for driving while intoxicated. Since 60 to 80 percent of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive, it’s clear that alternative penalties fall hopelessly short of stopping impaired driving behaviors.

Ignition interlock devices (IID) can be installed after a drunk driving conviction. They require a driver to blow clean air into the device to allow the vehicle to start.  After the motorist begins driving, the device’s additional “running retests” reduce the likelihood of tampering or deception.

“Law enforcement aims to detect impaired driving behavior, but ignition interlock devices are designed to prevent the behavior on a wide scale,” Conde noted. “This proven technology can be in more places at once, allowing law enforcement to allocate resources in other ways.”

The CDC conducted a systematic review of 15 studies on IIDs, and found re-arrest rates for drivers who were required to have the devices installed in their vehicles decreased by a median rate of 67 percent compared to drivers with suspended licenses.

An American Journal of Preventive Medicine study shows that state laws requiring interlocks for all drunk driving offenders were associated with a 7 percent decrease in BAC>0.08 crash fatalities.

AAA Idaho has shared this important information with legislators to call for the enactment of an all-offender IID program that requires the use of an ignition interlock device after the first drunk driving conviction (or refusal to comply with field testing).

 “Legislators have expressed concern over the serious nature of drunk driving in Idaho,” Conde said. “We believe that an all-offender IID program provides an equitable solution to a growing problem.  It’s in Idaho’s best interest to limit the damage done by repeat offenders.”

AAA will continue to partner with legislators in the hope that an all-offender IID initiative will gain momentum heading into the 2018 legislative session.