NTSB recommends ignition interlocks for first-time drunk-driving offenders

December 19, 2012

Washington – All first-time drunk driving offenders should be required to use ignition interlocks, according to a set of recommendations (.pdf file) from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The recommendations were triggered by a new study (.pdf file) from NTSB that analyzed wrong-way crashes – a crash type that is more likely than any other to cause serious or fatal injuries. The study found that drunk driving was the leading cause of wrong-way crashes.

Ignition interlock devices, which at press time were required for first-time offenders in 17 states, prevent drivers from starting a motor vehicle until they provide a breath sample to determine whether their alcohol content is lower than prescribed limits, an NTSB press release states. NTSB also recommended further research into passive alcohol-detection devices that could continually determine a driver’s alcohol levels through breath or touch-based sensors.

For addressing wrong-way crashes, NTSB also recommends better roadway lighting, signage and roadway markings; GPS devices that could detect and warn of wrong-way drivers; and implementing an older driver safety program addressing wrong-way drivers, as older drivers are overrepresented in these types of crashes.