New device designed to keep drunk drivers off SA’s roads for good

2009-06-19 00:00

MOTORISTS convicted of drunk driving will have a device fitted to their cars that will prevent them from driving while drunk, if South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD) have anything to do with it.

In a bid to combat drunken driving, SADD yesterday launched the “alcohol interlock blocking system” to prevent motorists from driving under the influence . It is the first of its kind in the country.

The system is designed to be used mainly in vehicles ferrying goods and is used mostly in European countries.

It consists of two parts, the first being the alcohol breathalyzer unit for which the driver has to give a breath sample, and the second being the immobiliser or vehicle blocking unit (VBS) that will prevent the vehicle from operating if the breath sample is above the legal limit.

The device is installed inside the engine. The driver is required to blow inside the device before the car can start. If he or she is over the limit, the car does not start.

Caro Smit of SADD said the device is necessary because of SA’s rampant drinking and driving problem, and the association plans to petition the government to make it compulsory to have it installed in the vehicles of people found guilty of driving while drunk.

“If a driver has been found guilty of drinking and driving, we want them to have this device installed in their car to make sure they do not repeat the offence.”

She said the device is “very sophisticated” and that it can drastically reduce the incidence of drinking and driving.

Manuel Ferreira, the business manager of PFK Electronics, the company that manufactures the device, said it has been approved in many European countries. “The problem with its approval here is that there is no legislation with regard to such devices.”

But he is confident that the device works. “The most important thing about it is that it cannot be tricked by drunk drivers asking other people to blow into the device so they could start the car, because, randomly during the driving, it requires the driver to blow into it.”

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