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Ignition interlock devices and distracted driving

Across the United States and in the state of New York, the required use of ignition interlock devices has become a standard in many drunk driving cases. The stated objective associated with the use of IIDs is to prevent additional instances of impaired driving while allowing the defendant the ability to reinstate their driving privileges. It would stand to reason, therefore, that IIDs should be implemented with safety as the top priority. A new report, however, shows that the use of an ignition interlock device might actually decrease safety.

Car and Driver magazine provided an overview of the report issued by The New York Times in which IIDs were linked to several vehicle accidents. The root cause of these accidents was driver distraction. Most people know that IIDs require a person to pass a breath test before they are allowed to start their vehicles. What many people may not know, however, is that with an IID, a driver must take and pass breath tests while actively driving.

Distracted driving can come in three forms: visual, manual and cognitive. When more than one type of distraction occurs, the danger is even greater than if only one form of distraction occurs. With an IID, a driver is forced to take their eyes, hands and mind away from driving in order to successfully pass the rolling retest. If they do not pass the test or complete the test within the given timeframe, their horn may start honking and lights start flashing until they stop their vehicle.

In New York, even a first drunk driving offense may lead to a person losing the right to drive for a while and the subsequent use of an IID.