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Distraction inherent in using an ignition interlock device

Tennessee residents arrested for suspected drunk driving know they may face a range of penalties if ultimately convicted of such offenses. In addition to fines, drivers may also lose the right to drive for some period of time. In order to restore driving privileges, LifeSafer indicates that people must have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

IIDs control a vehicle’s ignition and only permit a vehicle from being started once a breath test has been passed. In addition to taking a breath test before starting a vehicle, a driver must also take what are called rolling retests. These are breath tests that must be done while driving. Once successfully on the road, the IID system will signal to a driver that a rolling retest is required. The driver can pull and stop the vehicle to take the test but the driver also has the option of taking the test while actively driving.

How safe is taking a rolling retest while driving? According to LifeSafer, an IID manufacturer, it is “perfectly safe” and “not distracting at all”. The company indicates and puts forth the idea that a driver’s eyes need not be taken off the road. However, a driver must pick up and use the device by hand.

According to the AAA Exchange, a driving distraction is anything that takes a person’s eyes, mind or hands off of the act of driving. Certainly a rolling retest takes a driver’s hands off the wheel and requires mental attention. It is also highly likely that a driver would need to visually locate the device and pay attention to any messages displayed. In essence, one penalty for doing something allegedly dangerous requires drivers to do something else known to be dangerous.

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