Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Technology

3 groups looking to technology to stop DUIs

Insurers, parents and young drivers can all benefit from Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)

Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ignition interlock devices provide a possible solution. (Photo: IgnitionInterlockInfo.com)
Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ignition interlock devices provide a possible solution. (Photo: IgnitionInterlockInfo.com)

The technology now exists to dramatically reduce the number of alcohol-related auto accidents. It is possible to equip vehicles with tech-driven solutions that:

— Protect rather than punish drivers;

— Feature modern, user-friendly design;

— Connect via mobile communications to complementary or accessory services; and

— Can cost less than $100.

What's more, the financial benefits of deploying these digital solutions could fund their deployment costs in less than a year.

Related: Top 10 cities for fatal DUI crashes

Far-reaching problem


Many impaired drivers who get behind the wheel express this common sentiment: “What’s the harm? I got home safely and no one was hurt?”

But when that individual chose to put keys into a vehicle ignition and drive after drinking, that impaired driver not only put his or her own life at risk, that person also risked the lives of every other person passed along the way.

Related: The 7 deadly sins of car insurance

In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, according to the CDC. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, according to the CDC. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the United States, statistics related to driving under the influence (DUI) are staggering. Consider this:

— Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

— Of the 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the CDC.

— In 2011, 1.2 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

— Of the fatal crashes involving impaired drivers in 2011, roughly a third (32%) were age 21 to 24 while 30% were age 25 to 34, and 24% were age 35 to 44 (24%), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An expensive mistake


The costs associated with drunk driving go beyond the loss of human life. Drivers who are arrested for DUIs spend an average of $9,000 on legal fines and fees, according to esurance.

Depending on the state, a drunk driving conviction can come with additional court-ordered penalties, jail time and higher insurance rates.

A report from the the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) found that overall, the United States spends more than $132 billion each year on costs related to the drunk driving epidemic.

States that adapt strict interlock laws see a drastic decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the years that follow the implementation of the laws. (Photo: IgnitionInterlockInfo.com)

States that adapt strict interlock laws see a drastic decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the years that follow the implementation of the laws. (Photo: IgnitionInterlockInfo.com)

Ignition Interlock Devices


Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) have proven to be powerful when it comes to fighting DUIs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that the public saves $3 to $7 for every $1 spent on ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlocks also have been shown to reduce recidivism on average by 64%.

Most require a driver mouthpiece and an electronic box to analyze the breath of the driver to determine its alcohol concentration. The driver must breathe into the device until the IID has enough data to make a determination. Then, at random times after the engine has been started, the IID will require another breath sample. The purpose of this is to prevent someone other than the driver from providing a breath sample.

Additionally, the installation and use of these devices is typically mandated by a judge upon DUI conviction — especially for repeat offenders. The result is that IIDs are currently perceived as punitive.

In 2016, 10,497 people died in drunk driving crashes — one every 50 minutes — and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes, according to MADD and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In 2016, 10,497 people died in drunk driving crashes  one every 50 minutes  and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes, according to MADD and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Why insurers should take the lead


In the meantime, technology is making tremendous progress enabling solutions that are much more user-friendly and that can be positioned as protecting drivers rather than punishing them. For example, there are biosensors available today that, installed on the steering wheel, can detect if a driver has been drinking simply through touch. This technology removes the need for an intrusive, visible device dedicated to collecting the breath of the driver as well as the need to randomly verify the identity of the driver.

Related: 10 states with the worst drivers

The progress in Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility technologies also allows a black box in charge of all the electronics to be easily integrated with the vehicle and provide such additional safety functionalities as automatically connecting with a taxi or ride-share service to secure a safe ride home.

Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes, according to the CDC. (Photo: iStock)

Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes, according to the CDC. (Photo: iStock)

Changing the status quo


The broad adoption of IIDs through the U.S. could dramatically reduce the number of DUI accidents and fatalities nationwide.

This solution makes good economic sense for insurance carriers, who could quickly recover their initial investment in the technology.

This cause also should be an easy sell with parents who want the peace of mind of knowing that a younger driver’s vehicle cannot be operated by someone under the influence. Plus, should their loved one be too intoxicated to drive, the device will help facilitate a safe ride home.

The drivers most at risk of being involved in fatal DUI accidents (those age 21 to 34) also could benefit from using an IID. Insurers might win over these drivers by:

        • Offering a discounted insurance premium;
        • Providing additional value-added services such local restaurant discounts; and
        • Communicating how this technology will help them avoid the risk of a DUI conviction.

Some insurers are already hastening widespread adoption of these devices by offering discounted premiums to those policyholders who choose to use them.

Drunk and drugged driving continues to plague society with a staggering social and economic cost. Equipping vehicles with Interlock Ignition Devices and other user-based technologies can prevent people from driving while intoxicated and also keep them safe.

Francesco Impari is the Director of BlueThink US California, a branch office of an international engineering consulting firm operating accordingly to the paradigm of Open Innovation and Technology Transfer. francesco.impari@bluethink.us

Luigi Paraboschi is the Director of Euris RedTeam eurisredteam.net an international IT consulting group, which helps Insurances and Banks accelerate their digital transformations. paraboschi@eurisredteam.net

Additional details about the economics behind this article can be found at  http://acrossthehorizon.bluethink.co.uk/dui_article

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