There’s no doubt that drink driving is a major factor in serious causalities on our nation’s roads, with more than one quarter of fatal crashes involving a driver who is under the influence.
From 1 October 2014, Victoria will have new alcohol interlock laws which will make the devices mandatory for probationary and learner drink drivers and first time offenders with a blood alcohol reading of 0.07 or above.
This means that more drink drivers than ever before will be compelled to install interlock devices in their cars. Interlock devices are expensive and inconvenient, but they are a small price to pay compared with the trauma and cost of being injured or killed as a result of drink-driving.
Alcohol interlocks are an effective alternative. VicRoads says the devices reduce drink driving by up to 64 per cent while fitted and have stopped many motorists from driving while drunk.
As a lawyer specialising in motor vehicle accident claims, I have seen first-hand the devastating impact of car accidents in which alcohol played a role.
A recent survey by Slater and Gordon found that nearly half of Australians had been with someone who had driven or wanted to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The survey also found an overwhelming majority of Australians have gone to, or would go to, extreme lengths to stop a friend or family member from drink driving, including hiding their car keys or immobilising their car engines.
All motor vehicle accidents are preventable, but drink driving incidents are particularly senseless. And decades of research tells us that the crash impact and subsequent injuries can be more significant when alcohol is involved.
Most states have an alcohol interlock program with Western Australia indicating they intend to introduce one.
Any measures that help to dissuade drivers from driving under the influence of alcohol should be embraced.