Many people in West Virginia and across the country promote the use of ignition interlock devices. These machines require people driving a car to blow into an in-car breath test before starting their vehicles. In most cases, they are installed in a car only after a person has been convicted of drunk driving. However, some people urge that the devices be used more broadly. In Sweden, all government vehicles have ignition interlock devices installed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also come out in support of wider use of the devices, noting their success in reducing repeat drunk driving incidents by 70%.
However, others have raised concern about the effectiveness of the devices, especially when they are required for people without a drunk driving conviction. An investigation by The New York Times uncovered multiple incidents in which traffic accidents were caused by ignition interlock devices, the same mechanisms intended to prevent dangerous collisions. Specifically, the crashes were caused by the requirement for “rolling retests.” Some devices require the driver to blow into the interlock before starting the car and test their breath again at random intervals while driving.
If drivers miss the cue for a rolling retest, the car will not stop, but its horn will begin to honk, and lights will flash. The driver will need to pull over, turn off the car, test again and restart before resuming the trip. As some may expect, this process can lead to dangerous distraction and the resulting car crashes.
Distracted driving is not only caused by mobile phones and other personal devices; it can be caused by safety equipment as well. People injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by someone else’s negligence or distraction may work with a personal injury attorney to seek compensation for their losses.