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Safety devices could actually cause car accidents

When people are convicted of drunk driving, they may be mandated to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. These machines are a form of an in-car breath test that requires drivers to blow into them before they can start their vehicles. Some urge that they may be used even by people with a clean driving record. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed ignition interlocks, saying that people are 70% less likely to repeat drunk driving behavior if the devices are installed.

However, others point to dangers associated with the devices. Even while they are intended to prevent car accidents, some motor vehicle crashes have been linked to distractions caused by ignition interlocks. While some of the mechanisms require people to blow into the device only when they start their vehicles, others require “rolling retests.” In this case, people must continue to blow into the device at random intervals while driving, intended as a mechanism to prevent people from recruiting another person to allow them to start their cars. If the driver does not blow into the device during a retest, the car will not stop, but it will repeatedly honk or flash the lights until the driver pulls over, stops the car and tests again.

In one investigation, journalists found dozens of car accidents caused by people in the middle of a rolling retest. They say that it is a form of distracted driving, much like using a mobile phone or another device while on the road.

Distracted driving has become widely associated with the use of smartphones, but there are many contributors to distraction behind the wheel. People injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by a distracted or negligent driver may consult with a personal injury lawyer about how they can pursue compensation for their damages.

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