With Christmas on the horizon, social drinking sees an increase at this festive time of year and inevitably this increases the risk of drink driving on UK roads. Here in the UK we have in place laws about drink driving. Obviously, the first rule is don’t do it. The problem though is that we have to rely on friends or ‘concerned citizens’ to warn the drink driver or the police to stop the drink driver. Either way it is not always effective and the outcome could be a tragedy and possibly a stretch at her Majesty’s Pleasure. Drink driving is a criminal offence.
Other than in Scotland where the law is more strict than elsewhere in the UK, the legal limit for drinking is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. This translates to two pints of normal-strength beer for men or a large glass of wine for women. This of course very much depends upon the physiology of the drinker; drink affects different people differently. Best not to do it at all when taking a turn at the wheel.
Government statistics show that there were more than 6,000 accidents in 2016, due to drink driving in this country. The figures show 9,000 casualties overall with 1,260 serious injuries and 240 deaths. Not good.
A Breath Of Fresh Air
By a large majority, the idea of in-car breathalysers is very popular with road users and it certainly does make sense. It goes without saying that most drivers are careful about driving while under the influence but even so some sort of fail-save has to be a good idea. Installing these devices in cars would ensure that only people who are under the drinking limit would be able to drive.
An ignition interlock car breathalyser prevents drunk drivers from driving their vehicle. The device is connected to the vehicle at a pre-set level. If the would-be driver blows into it when over the set limit, the car won’t start. This is device is fine but relies upon the common sense of the driver. An automatic system that takes the decision out of the hands of the person at the wheel might be better and this is currently under consideration by government. In the near future car manufacturers might be compelled to fit them.
In The Pipeline
Currently under development are two different systems that will quietly measure blood alcohol levels in drivers. The first is breath-based and presumably will be able to see beyond the smell of a strong peppermint. The car driver breathes as normal and the system takes readings from the air in the cabin. Somehow it would have to distinguish between driver and passengers, so possibly the reading would come from directly in front of the steering wheel.
The second is touch-based and arguably seems to be more accurate. This would require only that the driver touch the steering wheel or the car’s start button to take a reading. It’s early days for this technology but, in the effort to stem the tide of drink-related car accidents, this is likely to be a part of our motoring future.