Researchers Say Ignition Interlocks Could Prevent 59,000 Deaths Due to Drunk Driving


Could equipping every vehicle with a device that prevents a drunk driver from starting the car save lives? According to a recent study from the University of Michigan’s Injury Center and Transportation Research Institute, the answer is yes.

The study estimates that over a 15-year period, requiring ignition interlock devices on every vehicle could save 59,000 lives and conserve $343 million that would otherwise be spent on medical costs, repairing vehicles and other costs associated with car accidents caused by drunk-driving.

Making ignition interlock devices standard on new vehicles would save money and save lives, researchers say.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 10,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents in 2013. Thousands more were injured. Although this number has dropped substantially over the past 10 years, the risks posed by drunk driving are still very real. Many Rhode Island families have been forced to live with the consequences of another person’s decision to drive while impaired by alcohol.

Although the researchers calculated the lives and dollars saved based on a model that included an ignition interlock device on every vehicle, the study’s authors support policies that require ignition interlock devices only for those drivers who have multiple DUI convictions or who had a particularly high blood alcohol concentration while driving. If a driver has no history of drunk driving, they say, it may be seen as unfair to require the use of an ignition interlock device.

An ignition interlock device requires the driver to supply a breath sample before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the car will not start.

Several states require ignition interlock devices if a person wishes to continue driving after receiving multiple drunk driving convictions or after being convicted of driving with a very high blood alcohol level. Nonetheless, studies estimate that only 20 percent of drivers who are eligible for an ignition interlock device after a DUI conviction actually have a device installed in their vehicles.

Unfortunately, many drunk drivers still manage to take to the roads in Rhode Island despite prevention efforts. Some of those impaired drivers cause accidents that injure innocent motorists. Victims of drunk driving crashes often face large medical bills, lost wages, significant pain and suffering, and other losses.

If you have been hurt in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you need immediate legal help from a lawyer who has experience handling serious personal injury lawsuits in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island personal injury attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush provide free case reviews to motor vehicle accident victims and their families. Call us at 401-443-2999 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.