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Ignition Interlock Laws Reduce Drunk Driving Fatalities by 7%

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A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports a 7% reduction in fatal drunk driving crashes in states that require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. 28 states and Washington, D.C. currently have all-offender ignition interlock laws.

And after the automotive safety experts and the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have a chance to review the report, we should expect legislators in another 22 states to sponsor legislative steps so that all 50 states will require or highly incentivize the use of ignition interlocks starting with the first offense.

“MADD advocates for laws requiring this proven technology because we know it saves lives,” said Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD’s) National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “This study proves the effectiveness of these laws, and we are grateful to Johns Hopkins for providing strong, persuasive evidence that we should continue our work with all states to pass all-offenders ignition interlock laws and continue to improve those already on the books.”

The comprehensive study, “Ignition Interlock Laws: Effects on Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes, 1982-2013,” considers an array of traffic safety improvements that likely contributed to decreases in drunk driving fatalities, and zeroed in on ignition interlocks. Taking all factors into account, researchers credited laws that require ignition interlocks for all offenders with a 7% reduction in fatal drunk driving crashes in which the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. The result: 1,250 lives saved, according to the study.

In other words, the interlock laws are saving lives. Maybe yours and mine. And as impressive as that is, here’s an equally important takeaway:

“Laws mandating interlock use for all offenders are more effective at reducing alcohol-involved fatal crashes than laws requiring ignition interlocks for segments of high-risk offenders,” researchers wrote. “Enactment of mandatory/all interlock laws in states that currently have partial and permissive laws is a public health priority.”

Let us know if you think it’s time that all-offender ignition interlock laws are enacted in all states.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, National (USA) / Southeast

Gregg is a former news reporter (Gannett Westchester Newspapers, NY) and has also worked for AAA Auto Club, communicating with reporters daily on fuel price trends since 2002. He joined the GasBuddy Organization in 2011 and is based in Tampa, FL.

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