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Ignition interlock devices may be causing car wrecks

An ignition interlock device (IID), which is essentially a small Breathalyzer-type device wired directly into a vehicle’s hardware, stops the car from starting unless the driver blows “clean.” Various studies have found that states that mandate the use of an IID after a drunk driving conviction reduce drinking-related fatalities by as much as 15%.

However, these devices are also causing wrecks. That’s because they are not only designed to prevent a car from starting when an inebriated person gets behind the wheel, but also to stop the car if the driver has been drinking on the road. To do that, the device will flash the driver a signal that it’s time for a “rolling retest.”

Rolling retests are proving to be, unfortunately, a dangerous distraction. If the request is ignored, the car will begin flashing its headlights and the horn will start blaring until the driver pulls over and shuts it off. Since drivers can’t ignore the alert, they have no choice but to pick up the device with one hand and blow into it for several seconds. Several seconds of distraction behind the wheel — as every driver knows — can be all it takes to get into a bad wreck.

Drivers using the devices have blacked out while in motion from breathing too hard, crossed highway divides in heavy traffic while trying to manage the restest and struck other cars after dropping a device and fumbling for it.

Drivers are supposed to pull over while they do a rolling retest. In practice, however, that seldom happens. Officials admit that about 99% of the retests happen while the car is in motion. However, there has been little investigation into the trouble that causes.

Distracted drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone on the road. If you or your loved one suffers from an injury in a distracted driving accident with another vehicle for any reason, find out what legal options you have to get the necessary compensation.