The Unforeseen Dangers of a Device That Curbs Drunken Driving

A recent New York Times article explains the unforeseen dangers of ignition interlocks that are used to prevent driving under the influence. These interlock devices have prevented alcohol-related car accidents, but at the same time, they have caused accidents.

This article highlights stories of people who have an interlock device installed in their car. One man in Texas, Blake Cowan, was required to have an interlock device in his car due to a history of two drunk driving charges. In order to start his car, he must blow into his interlock device. While driving, he has to provide additional breath samples or else his car will respond by going into “panic mode.” (Headlights flashing/horn honking until engine goes off). In 2017, Mr. Cowan was asked to provide an additional sample while driving. He accidentally dropped his interlock device and was reaching for it when he crashed into a young woman backing out of her driveway, Alexis Butler. Ms. Butler later passed away due to her injuries.

Mr. Cowan is not the only case of this happening. There have been many more incidents of this happening, due to the growing of interlock devices, false positives of interlock devices, and more. In North Carolina alone, the Times worked with officials to see if interlocks were cited in police crash reports. In ten years, there were three million crashes where interlock devices were cited.

To read more about this, please read “The Unforeseen Dangers of a Device That Curbs Drunken Driving,” written by Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg for the New York Times.