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Report: Ignition interlock devices are dangerous distractions

It is a part of life for some Tennessee drivers: before they can start their vehicles, they must blow into a mandated ignition interlock device. If the device doesn’t detect a prohibited level of alcohol, they can start their cars and drive. But to keep driving, they have to keep providing breath samples to the interlock device in what are known as “rolling retests.”

This is a part of life for Tennessee drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).

If you fail one of the random rolling retests – or if you don’t take the test – your car goes into panic mode with horn blaring and lights flashing until you pull over and turn the engine off.

A recent New York Times investigation into the effectiveness of ignition interlock devices determined that the gadgets far too often are dangerous distractions for drivers. While the device makers and installers urge people to pull over to blow into the interlock device in the retests, the reality is that drivers keep driving and take the tests as best they can.

Unfortunately, rolling retests require the driver to pay attention to the ignition interlock’s demands, which means less attention devoted to traffic on Chattanooga’s busy streets.

What we wind up with is law enforcement requiring drivers convicted of driving under the influence to take distracting tests while at the same time urging us all to avoid the dangers of distracted driving that often result in violent motor vehicle wrecks that cause injuries and can result in fatalities.

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