Friday, October 23, 2009

"Smart cars" for drunks

The New York Times article, Progress on drunken driving, explains the advantageous uses of the "ignition-interlock devices" in California, preventing known drunken drivers from starting their car if that don't pass a built in breathalyzer test. I agree that this device would prevent many drunken drivers from hitting the road, but I do not think that the author posed his argument very well.

The idea of preventing drunks from driving is very appealing to the kind of reader that does not drink, has had an incident with a drunk driver, or is just worried about drunk driving in general, but for those that have been drunk while driving, this device probably doesn't sound too great. To them this device will feel like an encroachment on the privacy that American's seem to hold so dearly. The way that the article is presented, in a very condemning tone, seems to push the product only because it would prevent drunks from hitting the road. The article fails to mention any flaws in the system that one should know about, including short circuiting the system, or perhaps even using someone else's breath to start the car. I am also sure that a majority of voters will have been drunk while driving once in their lifetime, and therefore would reject this device if all they knew about it was that it stops you from driving if you don’t pass the test.

I do agree that drunken drivers are a big problem across all of America, and that this device would help limit their numbers, but I think that this article does a poor job of presenting this argument. The people of California will, of course, no base their vote on this single article, but when arguing for something this important, one should present all the facts.

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