AAA, the motorist group with more than 53 million members, is endorsing the National Transportation Safety Board’s call for mandatory use of ignition interlock devices for all drunken-driving offenders.
AAA issued its statement five days before New Year’s Eve, which the group calls the deadliest day on U.S. roads. Interlocks require a driver to blow into a tube to prove his or her sobriety before starting a car, and are required for first-time DUI offenders in about one-third of states.
The NTSB two weeks ago called for mandatory interlocks, something Mothers Against Drunk Driving began pushing in 2006.
It’s part of what AAA has said is a concerted effort to have a louder voice on policy. The group last month warned that an ethanol-blended gasoline called E15 – which the Obama administration supports – may confuse consumers and damage car engines.
Interlocks, for which offenders pay installation costs and a monthly fee, should only be required for repeat offenders and those whose blood-alcohol content is egregiously high, says a coalition of restaurants and alcoholic beverage distributors. That group, which won’t disclose its members, is the chief voice of opposition to interlocks for first-time offenders.
It’s up to states to enact traffic-safety laws, including those requiring interlocks. But pushing at a national level for change is a tried-and-true model with notches of success for initiatives including mandatory seat belt use, lowering the limit for drunk driving to .08 blood-alcohol content, and raising the legal drinking age to 21.