The benefits – both societal and personal – of alcolocks to prevent drunk driving are highlighted in a new European film describing how the devices can save lives and change the lives of those who use them.
Two participants in Belgium’s alcolock rehabilitation program speak on camera about how using the device has changed their relationship with alcohol and helped them stop drunk driving.
The five-minute short film, in French with English subtitles, was launched earlier this month by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), a Brussels-based independent non-profit organisation.
“Alcohol locks can help us end the tragedy of drunk driving fatalities,” Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the safety group, said in a statement.
“But this film provides a rare glimpse of how people using these devices can maintain control of their lives, stay in work and maintain family relationships,” Avenoso added. “In combination with psychological guidance, monitoring and feedback, as in Belgium, alcolocks save lives, but they also change the lives of those who use them.”
About a quarter of road deaths in Europe are drunk driving, according to the safety group.
Alcohol interlocks require the driver to breathe into a device connected to his or her vehicle’s ignition before starting it. A vehicle cannot be started if the test result is positive, i.e. a blood alcohol value higher than a predetermined level.
From July 2022, all new types of vehicles entering the EU market must have the option to install an alcolock. In several European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden, convicted drunk drivers can opt for an alcolock instead of a driving ban. safety locks fitted as standard in professional vehicles in the EU, and for more countries to introduce alcolock rehabilitation programs for drink-driving offenders.
It is not just a European problem. In the United States, drunk driving is a factor in nearly one-third of all road deaths. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a nonprofit representing state highway safety agencies, 11,654 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2020, an average of one such fatal accident every 45 minutes.
All states except Utah define driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08% as a crime, the association noted. In Utah, the law was changed several years ago to set the BAC level at 0.05%.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit organization funded by the insurance industry, about a quarter of road deaths could be prevented each year if all drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or higher were kept off the road .
Many states require alcohol interlocks for people with impaired driving convictions, but specific laws vary by state. Seven states (Indiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) have no mandatory lockdown requirements.
“People are less likely to reoffend if they are required to have an interlock,” the insurance institute noted, “and laws requiring interlocks for all drink-driving offenders reduce the number of accidents involving alcohol.”
To watch the movie, click here. Click here for more information on alcolock programs in Europe. Click here for information on device usage in the US.