Information released from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today indicate most Americans support the use of advanced technologies that would prevent drivers from starting their vehicles if they were at or above the legal limit.
The Century Council, funded by distillers to fight drunk driving and underage drinking, has long supported the exploration of these advanced technologies if they are moderately priced, absolutely reliable, set at the .08 legal BAC limit, and unobtrusive to the sober driver. In fact, The Century Council’s recent research on public acceptance of advanced technologies to prevent drunk driving also reflects strong support (63%) among Americans for these innovative solutions as a means to eliminate drunk driving.
As the Federal Government and auto manufacturers work toward the development of affordable, reliable solutions that are set at the legal limit, The Century Council continues to strongly support countermeasures that will prevent drunk driving and in particular stop hardcore drunk driving. Hardcore drunk drivers are those who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or above, who do so repeatedly, as demonstrated by having more than one drunk driving arrest, and who are highly resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatment, or education efforts. These hardcore drunk drivers account for the majority of alcohol-impaired fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007, drivers with a BAC of .15 or above and who have a prior DWI conviction accounted for 77 percent of the alcohol-impaired fatal crashes nationally.
Advanced technology holds tremendous promise for stopping drunk driving. However, it will be a long time before every driver in this country owns or drives a car equipped with the new technology. In the meantime, The Century Council supports comprehensive solutions to the hardcore drunk driving problem that exists in every community across the nation. Among this hard-to-reach population, behavioral change is and for many years will be a critical component to America’s drunk driving countermeasures. The Century Council strongly believes actions must also be taken to stop hardcore drunk driving including swift identification, effective punishment that includes mandatory ignition interlock use, effective treatment with intensive supervision and monitoring, and the expansion of DWI courts. Education for America’s criminal justice professionals is also essential to our nation’s efforts.
Long-term behavior change is essential to our nation’s efforts to fight drunk driving. The Century Council and its criminal justice partners are seeking to improve DWI adjudication and have made recommendations to the United States Congress for the reauthorization of the highway bill. For more information on our Congressional recommendations, visit www.centurycouncil.org.