More than 10,000 road users lose their lives each year and a further 200,000 suffer injuries in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Impaired drivers are responsible for 29% of the road deaths in New York and around the country and remain the nation’s most serious road safety problem, and the figures suggest that public information campaigns about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking are having only a limited effect.
New York’s DWI laws require motorists who are convicted of drunk driving to install what are known as ignition interlock devices in their vehicles that use similar technology to police breath-testing equipment. Road safety advocacy groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving want auto manufacturers to make such devices standard equipment on all cars sold in the United States. While car buyers may be reluctant to embrace technology that requires them to take a breath test every time they start their vehicles, touch-based systems are said to be in development that would make identifying impairment far less intrusive.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that this technology could save about 7,000 lives each year. Autonomous safety systems and self-driving cars could also reduce the threat posed by drunk drivers. The Swedish carmaker Volvo has made safety its hallmark, and the company says that it is working on autonomous systems that keep an eye on drivers and pulls their vehicles over automatically when it notices signs of intoxication.
The injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers are often catastrophic, and the negligent motorists responsible are often killed themselves. However, their victims may still have legal options available to them. When reckless motorists are unable to make restitution, experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue civil remedies by filing lawsuits against their estate or insurance company.