MADD pushing new technology to eliminate drunken driving

Monday, November 20th 2006, 8:52 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ New technology like alcohol-detecting devices in cars may hold the key to eliminating drunken driving, according to a campaign launched Monday by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The organization, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation, is pushing for such devices along with tougher enforcement measures around the country.

``Using technology, tougher enforcement, stronger laws and mobilization, the goal of eliminating a primary public health threat that has plagued the United States is within our reach,'' said Glynn Birch, president of MADD, in a statement prepared for a news conference.

The organization's plan includes working with state officials to require breath-test interlock devices in vehicles for all those who have been convicted of drunken driving _ even first offenders. The device shuts down the car if alcohol is detected.

MADD also wants states to implement more sobriety checkpoints. It also wants to establish a panel of safety experts to explore other technology options that would help prevent drunk driving.

``Drunk driving is a problem that is painful and persistent, but it's also preventable,'' said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters in a statement. ``Pairing the public and private sectors for the common good is a powerful combination, one that will help us achieve real results in terms of saving lives and preventing injuries.''

Each year, nearly 13,000 people are killed by drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above and countless others are injured, according to MADD.

Other organizations joining the campaign include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Distilled Spirits Council and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.