Are personal breath tests the answer to drunk-driving problem?

No matter what state you live in, whether it’s here in South Carolina or somewhere else, drunk driving is a huge problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 12,000 people die every year in alcohol-related crashes. But what makes this statistic perhaps most impactful is the fact that all of these accidents could have been prevented if the drivers had taken the necessary precaution and not gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated.

Most people think that counting drinks or basing their sobriety on “how they feel” will be enough to prevent a drunk driving accident. Unfortunately though, these methods are flawed and do not give an accurate representation of actual intoxication. In a number of drunk driving cases, accidents are the result of a driver mistakenly thinking that they are okay to drive when in fact they are not.

If the need is for a more accurate blood-alcohol level, then some people — especially law enforcement officers — believe that personal breathalyzers could be the answer. Ranging from $30 to a few hundred, personal Breathalyzers offer drivers a way to see if their intoxication level matches the way they feel. The hope among many is that widespread use of these devices will help drivers make the right decision and choose a sober ride instead of drunk driving.

But the truth of the matter is that the use of these devices is not widespread. Because of devices like ignition interlock devices, a negative stigma is attached to personal breath tests, which may lead some to insinuate that the driver has a drinking problem. Some also believe that the cost of these devices is another factor. People may think that the cost of the device does not outweigh the risk of getting caught, thus doing nothing to help reduce drunk driving in the nation.

So are personal breath tests the answer to drunk-driving problem? We’ll let our Spartanburg readers decide for themselves, though better judgment may be a simpler, more cost effective solution as well.

Source: The Atlantic, “Why Not Just Breathalyze Yourself?” Paula Vasan, Dec. 31, 2014