August 12, 2012
MADD wants to completely eliminate drunk driving. That sounds great doesn’t it? I have seen the destruction wrought by drunk drivers, have cried with families over precious lives lost and have upbraided irresponsible friends and family members that might consider getting behind the wheel when they are not sober. I bet you have done most if these things too.
The way MADD and some of their friends want to go about eliminating drunk driving though, is absolutely stunning.
I am told by respected legal experts that driving is a privilege, not a right. If this is an unchallengeable fact then American motorists should be prepared to pay dearly for that privilege.
About a year ago, I was discussing with my husband, a reliable and reasonable skeptic in all things, a number of ridiculously intrusive technologies that are making us all more like slaves than free people. The example I hit on in this particular conversation was technology being used to analyze blood alcohol levels on the spot. This technology is frequently mandated to be installed on the vehicles of those convicted of DUI offenses. Its called ignition interlock devices or IIDs and it prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver tests positive for alcohol. I had heard the news report that this technology was being considered for some kind of alcohol vending machine. The customer would have to submit to a blood alcohol level test and if the level was not acceptable, the machine would not allow the purchase to be made. I asked my husband how long did he think it would be before some kind of alcohol sensing device would become standard issue on all vehicles. He thought the idea was insane but said not sooner than fifty years from now. I said ten.
Not a week later an article popped up in the news suggesting exactly such a plan.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has been waging war against the practice of driving while drunk for some time. The organization has taken flak for some of their methods in doing so and I am about to be added to their growing list of detractors.
As a side note, a few months ago I challenged myself to prove a claim I have openly made again and again: Take nearly any proposal, initiative or policy in some way related to policing that runs roughshod over our natural and legal rights, especially if it includes new technology, and you will invariable find the International Association of Chiefs of Police to be intimately involved in that plan. (Here is just one example)
The idea of forcing all drivers to submit to some kind of testing of their body chemistry in order to be able to start their own car in the absence of any sort of evidence that the driver might be inebriated is just beyond the pale in my mind. But if there is anyone thinking about doing such a thing, it would be the IACP.
In my research I discovered that MADD was working very diligently on a technology called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety or DADSS as part of their campaign to completely eliminate drunk driving.
More than 7,000 road traffic deaths could be prevented every year if alcohol detection devices were used in all vehicles. link
This technology is being tested under the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (or DADSS) program. Under a $10 million cooperative research effort, NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (or ACTS), just recently completed a “proof of concept phase” and is planning to move forward to further explore the feasibility of developing technologies that potentially could be mass produced.--Brian McLaughlin Senior Associate Administrator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
So where is the IACP? I had no doubt that these UN affiliated tech tyrants were doing their part to promote this repulsive plan. I was right.
GHSA supports the MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.
Now lets see how this IACP backed, Mad Campaign to Eliminate the Presumption of Innocence and Completely Control Drivers has progressed since 2011.
From the National Motorists Association’s E-Newsletter #187: The Frog in the Pot
Buried within the approximately 600 pages of legislation enacted in the recent federal transportation law are two provisions to encourage the installation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) into more vehicles.
. . .The first offers grants to states that implement mandatory interlock requirements for all DUI offenders. The second provides continued funding for the Driver Alcohol Detection System and Safety (DADSS) program.
The effort centers on two possible technologies—one that reads BAC through the driver’s skin and another that uses cabin sensors to measure alcohol concentrations in the driver’s exhaled breath. Note that neither technology operates like current interlock devices, which have been deemed as unreliable, too intrusive and “not acceptable for widespread use among the driving public…”
It’s no secret that the true aim of DADSS is to install interlock devices in all new vehicles. Under this regime, all drivers—not just those with DUI convictions—would have to pass a BAC test every time they wanted to start their car.
Interlock proponents, such as MADD and certain policymakers, downplay their support for mandatory, universal interlock use because of the public backlash it would cause. So, they work toward incremental gains, such as passing more interlock legislation at the state level and funding initiatives like DADSS, which are couched as “research” programs.
But the efforts of advocates and policymakers may not be enough. According to this recent article, the key to universal acceptance (read mandatory in all new vehicles) of interlock devices may lie elsewhere:
While some believe that the universal implementation of alcohol interlocks should be mandated by government, there is an argument that suggests that the paradigm shift towards universal acceptance will be driven by private industry.
The writer explains that as interlocks have become widespread in commercial and fleet vehicles, especially overseas, the companies that have adopted them are perceived by the public as more safety conscious and better corporate citizens. The logic goes that if a taxi passenger in Belgium observes the driver using an interlock before starting the cab, the passenger will feel more secure and have a more positive view of interlocks.
The writer concludes that the private sector, not government, can do a better job of changing public perception of interlocks, especially in North America. If consumers become more aware of alcohol testing in commercial driving settings, and the assumed accompanying safety benefits, they will more accepting of interlocks in their personal vehicles and may actually want them.
It’s an interesting point. Private sector companies are masterful at influencing public opinion. It’s called marketing, and the techniques to do it effectively have been honed over 150 years. But even if UPS or Walmart did require interlocks in its fleet vehicles, would the company really want to call attention to that fact? Likely not, for fear of even suggesting that its drivers might drive while impaired.
So, even if the private sector begins to adopt interlock technology on a large scale, the spillover effect on consumers will likely be subtle and incremental (like slowly turning up the heat on a frog in a pot of water). Given the modus operandi of the interlock proponents, they will probably be very content with that.
Ignition interlocks represent a flawed solution to the drunk-driving problem. Nonetheless, their supporters will continue to push for universal acceptance through obvious, and not so obvious, means. Their success is not guaranteed. We encourage you to ask your policymakers to consider alternative, thoughtful approaches to this serious public safety issue. ♦
**You can find a collection of DADSS documents here