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House bill calls for mandatory ignition interlock devices

Individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in West Virginia must enter the state's Alcohol Test and Lock Program. This involves fitting a device to their vehicles that checks their breath and prevents its operation when alcohol is detected. More than 25 states have passed similar drunk driving laws, but a bill introduced recently in the U.S. House of Representatives would go much further. The Abbas Stop Drunk Driving Act would require auto manufacturers to fit interlock devices to all new passenger vehicles offered for sale in America.

The bill is sponsored by a Michigan lawmaker who was prompted to act when five members of a family lost their lives in early January in a drunk driving accident. A truck driver who was later determined to be intoxicated crossed the center line and struck the family's car head-on as they returned home after vacationing in Florida. Accidents caused by drunk drivers claim about 10,000 lives each year in the United States according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ignition interlock devices are not the only technology capable of preventing the kind of collisions that drunk drivers are often involved in. Autonomous accident avoidance systems are capable of taking control of cars in emergency situations and operating the steering and applying the brakes automatically, and lane departure technology warns drivers when they begin to stray into other lanes of traffic.

The families of road users killed in drunk driving accidents may feel that their chances of pursuing compensation have been dashed when the intoxicated motorists responsible were either killed themselves or face decades in prison on vehicular homicide charges, but legal remedies may still be available to them. In situations like this, experienced personal injury attorneys might file lawsuits against the deceased or incarcerated drunk driver's estate or automobile insurance provider.

Source: The West Virginia Department of Transportation, West Virginia Alcohol Test and Lock Program, Staff report, Dec. 21, 2018

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