There has always been more than a modicum of controversy surrounding ignition interlock devices.
As many of our readers in Denver and across Colorado know, those miniature on-board breathalyzers assess the alcohol consumption level of select drivers when they get behind the wheel. An IID detecting alcohol use will disable an engine. Moreover, it will provide evidence of drinking to criminal law authorities.
Interlock devices are obviously intended to serve as tools of deterrence that identify drunk drivers and keep them off the road. No reasonable person disagrees with their aim. A number of media outlets across the country – including the Denver Post – are currently stressing, though, that IIDs can be a double-edged sword in the realm of roadway safety. That is, they can both promote and undermine safety.
The latter concern stems primarily from a commonplace duty placed on drivers with IIDs in their vehicles. Legions of motorists who blow into an interlock device and are cleared to start their engines are subject to additional IID interaction when they are engaged in traffic. They must provide occasional and random breath samples while seeking to focus on the road realities surrounding them.
Understandably, that can be unduly stressing. Vehicles can quickly go into so-called “panic mode” if a driver doesn’t respond quickly to a sudden dictate.
Relevant evidence from across the U.S. reveals just how dangerous that can be, both for drivers with interlock devices and other motorists sharing the road with them.
A stark irony is clear regarding IIDs. They are tools intended to curb behind-the-wheel inebriation, yet they are being increasingly perceived as crash-inducing catalysts in many reported instances where sober drivers subjected to IID restrictions can become overwhelmed by distraction in an instant.
We will focus a bit more on ignition interlock devices in an upcoming blog post.