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May 27, 2008

Click to Drive


Seems obvious enough now that I've thought of it but if that's the case how come no one else has?

The penny dropped last evening as I was looking back over the day's posts and once again was struck by the superb Western Australia ad campaign promoting seat belt use.

Then I happened on one of those full page ads that've been running recently in the New York Times, heaping scorn on the idea of mandatory breath test ignition interlock systems being promoted by MADD and its allies.

The ads show mug shots of famous people who've been booked for drunk driving and tell us it's a good idea for them but not for hoi polloi, who won't be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at the ball game should the new technology be adopted.

You know what?

Zero-tolerance for alcohol when driving is an idea whose time arrived long ago but for some reason — except in Sweden, where any blood alcohol detected in a driver means mandatory jail time — has been relegated to the quackery department everywhere else.

I was for it when I was young and I'm still for it and I'll always be for it.

Who wouldn't want to be certain that the idiot coming toward you in the wee small hours of the evening, weaving back and forth across the center line, isn't seeing triple?


This isn't about alcohol, it's about seat belts.

Why not simply build an ignition interlock into the driver's seat belt such that if it's not closed, the car won't start?

Sure, you could always click the belt shut and then start the car and either unclick or sit on the closed belt but who'd bother?

Genius, if I do say so myself.

But clearly I'm missing something big 'cause it would have been done a long time ago if I weren't.



May 27, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I had a 73 Nova that would not start when the seatbelt was not fastened and if released after the car started it would blast loudly until the belt was fastened again. I won't go into great detail, but I was carnapped and taken off and raped because I could not release my seatbelt without being detected. There was no way to even jump from the moving vehicle without giving myself away.

I never reported this to police so carmakers must have figured this one out for themselves.

Posted by: Theressa | May 29, 2008 12:00:54 PM

It would be far easier to have mandatory jail time for those who cause a crash and skip trying to outlaw every way of increasing the probability of a crash.

Posted by: Lem | May 27, 2008 6:45:35 PM

Of course, on the zero-tolerance for alcohol when driving topic, I've always wondered why bars have parking lots...

In my (albeit, limited) experience, that whole "designated driver" thing rarely pans out. So, who's driving the cars out of the aforementioned parking lots? People who've been boozing it up.

I'd say it high time we spread the 'love' around and begin demonizing Bud Light & Coors in much the same way as we do cigarettes. I'd wager that drunk drivers cause far more automobile accidents (and fatalities) than do smoking drivers. Note that I'm not advocating smoking - far from it - just that what's good for the goose oughta be good for the gander.

Anyway, leave it to those clever Aussies to whip up yet another very savvy public health ad campaign.

Posted by: Rob O. | May 27, 2008 2:34:15 PM

"Why not simply build an ignition interlock into the driver's seat belt such that if it's not closed, the car won't start?"

They did. In 1974:
Another commonly cited forcing function for a car ignition is a seat-belt interlock—championed by Lee Iacocca in the 1970’s, and briefly made mandatory on new cars in the United States, but deeply unpopular [32, 35]. “In response to public pressure, Congress took about twenty minutes to outlaw Interlock. They replaced it with an eight-second buzzer that would remind passengers to buckle up” [35].

If you remember the Sixties, that proves you weren't there. But the 70s were a very sobering decade indeed....

Posted by: Paul Tempke | May 27, 2008 1:33:15 PM

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