Attitudes toward in-vehicle advanced alcohol detection technology

McCartt, Anne T. / Wells, JoAnn K. / Teoh, Eric R.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
March 2010

Objectives: Efforts are underway to develop advanced alcohol detection technologies suitable for use in all vehicles to prevent driving with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Attitudes toward having this technology in all vehicles were assessed.
Methods: A nationally representative sample of people 18 and older was interviewed by telephone.
Results: Eighty-four percent of survey respondents supported requiring alcohol ignition interlocks in the vehicles of convicted driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders. Sixty-four percent said having advanced alcohol detection technology in all vehicles is a good or a very good idea, assuming the technology is reliable; 30 percent said it is a bad idea. Most people in favor said that it would prevent alcohol-impaired driving, save lives, or prevent crashes. Among respondents who said it is a bad/very bad idea, one third cited concerns about privacy or government interference; 20 percent said not all drivers need screening. Support was highest among respondents who do not drink, but it also was favored by the majority of respondents who drink, respondents who have driven within 2 hours of consuming alcohol, and respondents who may have driven when they were above the legal limit for alcohol. Forty-two percent of respondents who drive said they would want an advanced alcohol detection device in their next vehicles if it were available as an option at a reasonable price. Of the 54 percent who said they would not want a device, 44 percent said they do not drink alcohol so it would not be useful. Most people said a price less than $500 would be reasonable.
Conclusions: It appears that the majority of the U.S. population is receptive to the idea of having advanced alcohol detection devices in all vehicles to prevent people from driving with an illegal BAC, although less than half say they would purchase a device in their next vehicles.