Nearly six years ago, New Mexico turned to technology to get tough on drunken driving. Today, the state’s pioneering use of ignition interlocks – devices that prevent alcohol-impaired drivers from starting their cars – is credited with significant reductions in drinking-related traffic deaths, injuries and crashes, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “There are a few hundred people walking around that would have been dead if we had the same fatality rate,” said Richard Roth, a retired professor who has researched ignition interlocks.
With the strongest interlock law on the books, New Mexico’s drunken-driving recidivism rate is down 30% since 2003, helping to make the state a model for curbing impaired driving. Now, a legislator from West Allis, Wis., wants to adapt New Mexico’s tech-based approach to Wisconsin to help fight one of the country’s worst drunken-driving problems. “Wisconsin has a tremendous problem with drunk driving, and our laws are not adequate,” state Rep. Tony Staskunas said. “I like the ignition interlock approach because it starts to change behavior.”