Alcohol sensors should be in every car in order to cut drink-related road deaths and injuries, says the Government’s former chief drugs adviser (BBC News).
Professor David Nutt says motorists should have to breathe into the devices before starting their car, to test they are not over the limit.
Professor Nutt, president of the British Neuroscience Association and a professor at Imperial College, London, said Britain was facing a “public health crisis” of “immense proportions” because of a rise in the number of alcohol-related illnesses and deaths, according to BBC News.
Although he welcomes plans for minimum unit pricing in England, Wales and Scotland, saying it will have a “big impact” on heavy drinkers, Professor Nutt said much more must be done.
In his new book, ‘Drugs – Without the Hot Air’, he suggests seven ways to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
One of his most controversial suggestions is for the “wider use” of alcohol detectors that won’t allow cars to start if the driver has drunk more alcohol than the legal limit.
Professor Nutt told the BBC that some countries used the in-car breathalysers, known as alcohol ignition interlock devices, to ensure that people convicted of drink-driving don’t take to the wheel, but he had an even more “radical” idea.
He said: “You could potentially have it so that was true of all cars – everybody would have to breathe in [to the device] before they were able to drive away.
“You hear about terrible accidents when four or five young people die simultaneously in the one car because the driver’s been drunk. It could save a lot of lives.”
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety, gave the idea a cautious welcome, but said it would have to go hand-in-hand with lowering the drink-drive limit from 80 mg/100 ml of blood.
But, according to BBC News, the Department for Transport said it had no plans to install in-car breathalysers in cars, or to use them to test drink-driving offenders.
A spokesman said: “These schemes are very difficult to manage because offenders can get round the lock by changing the car they drive. We are also not persuaded as to their effectiveness in changing long-term behaviour.
“We are always willing to consider new initiatives to combat drink driving and of course would consider any new research or technology in this area.”
Click here to read the full BBC News report.