Stakeholders’ opinions on a future in-vehicle alcohol detection system for prevention of drunk driving

Publisher's full text
Hans Antonson

Introduction: There is a common understanding that driving under the influence of alcohol is associated with higher risk of being involved in crashes with injuries and possible fatalities as the outcome. Various countermeasures have therefore from time to time been taken by the authorities to prevent drunk driving. One of them has been the alcohol interlock. Up to now, interlocks have mainly been used by previously convicted drunk drivers and in the commercial road transport sector, but not in private cars.

Objective and Method: New technology has today reached a level where broader implementation might be possible. To our knowledge, however, little is known about different stakeholders' opinions of a broader implementation of such systems. In order to increase that knowledge, we conducted a focus group study to collect in-depth thoughts from different stakeholders on this topic. Eight focus groups representing a broad societal span were recruited and conducted for the purpose.

Results and Conclusions: The results show that most stakeholders thought that an integrated system for alcohol detection in vehicles might be beneficial in lowering the number of drunk driving crashes. They said that the system would probably mainly prevent driving by people who unintentionally and unknowingly drive under the influence of alcohol. The groups did, however, not regard the system as a final solution to the drunk driving problem, and believed that certain groups, such as criminals and alcoholics, would most likely find a way around the system.

Concerns were raised about the risk of increased sleepy driving and driving just under the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. The results also indicate that stakeholders preferred a system that provides information on the BAC up to the legal limit, but not for levels above the limit; for those, the system should simply prevent the car from starting. Acceptance of the system depended on the reliability of the system, on its ability to perform fast sampling, and on the analytical process, as well as the system's more or less inconspicuous placement and user-friendliness. The stakeholders thought that drivers would probably not voluntarily demand the system. So if broad implementation was desired, it would have to be made compulsory by legislation. As an incentive to increase demand, lower taxes and insurance premiums were suggested.

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