Buried in all of this month’s political news is the announcement that, from 2022, all new cars sold in Europe will need to be fitted with breath-testing devices. Moreover, existing cars will have until 2024 to get with the program and have the necessary modifications fitted. This is part of the same EU regulations which mandate that speed-limiting software will be installed, too.
The aim of this stuff is simple: to reduce the number of road fatalities and severe injuries. If you get behind the driver’s wheel of the car of the future, then it’ll detect that you’ve had one too many and it’ll shut down the engine.
According to the European Transport Safety Council, an independent body which has nothing to do with the EU, despite being based in Brussels, the elimination of drink-drivers from the roads would cut collisions by a whopping thirty percent, which would save roughly 25,000 lives across the continent over the course of the next fifteen years.
It’s probably a good idea to take predictions like this with a pinch of salt. It’s difficult to say what will happen next year in an industry as dependent on technological change as the motoring industry. Moreover, taking a single small figure and extrapolating outward to produce a big one is likely to result in embarrassing errors.
What about the UK?
As you’ve been reading this, two letters in particular might have jumped out at you. This is an EU thing, isn’t it? So what impact is it going to have on British drivers?
Well, there are several reasons to pay attention. The first is that many British drivers will find themselves on the continent, and they’ll need to have suitable vehicles. The second is that what happens in Europe often happens here, too: the current government has expressed a desire to maintain close alignment with road safety laws on the continent.
What’s more, the entire Brexit process is somewhat up-in-the-air at the moment, with many of the parties vying for power in the imminent election having entirely opposing takes on how to resolve the issue. All in all, it’s highly unlikely that Britain won’t mandate this technology at some point.
All of that aside, it’s difficult to deny that getting drink-drivers off the road is an unambiguously good thing, and that it’s going to result in fewer road injuries and deaths. Thus it’s enormously likely that this technology, if it’s proven effective, is going to emerge in Britain, too – regardless of what happens with Brexit.
Of course, drink-driving is a problem now, and we shouldn’t wait for some technological supervisor to be introduced into our vehicles to cut it out. While there is a point at which you can have alcohol in your bloodstream and still be legally allowed to drive, your reactions and motor skills will still be impaired – and thus a good idea is to limit your intake to a nice round zero if you know you’re going to need to drive home.