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Can ignition interlocks help to reduce fatal car accidents?

Fairfield motorists know to stay away from drunk drivers on the road; they are dangerous, reckless, and their reaction times and judgment are impaired by the alcohol in their system. Unfortunately, many people are unable to avoid drunk drivers and are hit, injured or killed by people who are too inebriated to be driving. Though Ohio residents are able to file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against these drivers, it may not be enough to persuade some drivers to sober up before getting behind the wheel.

A push by the federal government for states to adopt ignition interlock devices for all first and subsequent offenders may be able to convince drivers of the importance of being sober while driving. Mandating that anyone convicted of drunk driving have a device is a harsh policy, but it may send an important message to a group that is likely to drive drunk.

Many people within highway safety recognize that men between the ages 21 and 35 are very likely to drink and drive. Despite the numerous safety and public education campaigns, this group of young men is more reluctant to start driving more safely. Extremely harsh penalties like ignition interlock devices, however, may get more people to stop driving drunk.

One reason why ignition interlocks are so unattractive to Ohio drivers is because they cost a considerable amount of money. Though there is no standardized cost, the average device costs $75 to install and approximately $70 per month to rent. Another reason is that it disables anyone's car who is unable to pass a breath test.

If ignition interlock devices do help to reduce the number of serious and fatal car accidents on Fairfield's roads, it may be worthwhile for Ohio to require that first-time drunk driving offenders sign up for the device.

Source: Washington Post, "Federal officials push for tougher state drunken-driving laws," Ashley Halsey III, Aug. 14, 2012

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