ever since i was very small (and well before things like seat belts in cars became standard, and driving while intoxicated became a crime) i have wondered about why DUI was as big a problem as it was. while i was perusing my news-feeds this morning, i came across a suggestion that i have been making on a pretty regular basis, that Alcohol Detectors Could Come Standard With a New Car – although even that doesn’t seem like it goes far enough, because, under the system proposed there, the blood/alcohol meter would actually control whether or not you could actually start the car at all if you blew over the legal limit.
my idea, which i got from my father, who was one of the scientists that caused the industry uproar about seat belts in the late ’60s and early ’70s, is relatively simple and straightforward to install in already existing cars, and dead simple to design into new cars, and it is this: when a driver sits down in the driver’s seat, they are presented with a breathing tube that connects to a blood/alcohol meter, and the car WILL NOT start until the driver breathes into the meter. once the driver has activated the meter, the car will start, regardless of whether or not they had blown over the limit, but if it detects more than a certain level of alcohol in the bloodstream, it triggers a display on the dashboard that is a 30-second test to determine whether the person is actually able to drive or not; something along the lines of keeping a needle between two lines using the steering wheel of the car. if the driver passes the test, the transmission lock is opened and the driver is able to drive normally. if the driver doesn’t pass the test, the car will still move, but the transmission is governed so that the car won’t go faster than a certain speed (i suggest 5 miles per hour), and the lights automatically flash and the horn goes off at regular intervals… that way, if a person is determined to drive home after a night’s carousing, they can do so, but they’re not anywhere near as likely to cause severe damage, and the police won’t have to search around for the guy that’s driving while plastered.
i have suggested this, and my father has suggested this (and he is a person who is a lot more qualified to suggest things like this than i am) for 40 years, and nobody has taken notice of it. it would be legal, it wouldn’t impair the right of people to drive, even while drunk, and, personally, i think it would be hillarious to see a guy going five miles an hour, with his lights flashing and his horn honking… my impression is that it wouldn’t take more than a few of those before people decided that driving drunk probably isn’t the way to get there…
what’s so hard about that, anyway?