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And now the follow-through

April 6, 2012
Estherville Daily News

The Every 15 Minutes project held this Wednesday and Thursday at Estherville Lincoln Central High School definitely had an impact.

Now it's time to make that impact permanent.

Yes, alcohol-related crashes kill one person every 15 minutes. The point now is to reduce that statistic as much as possible.

The crux of the problem, of course, is drinking and driving. And for teenagers, it's teenage drinking and driving. Anyone who has drunk to excess simply should not drive a motor vehicle. But there are some possible solutions.

Those little devices that people have to blow into if they've been convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence? The ones that won't let a car start if the driver has a certain level of alcohol on his or her breath? Why not make them mandatory - for all drivers.

Okay, you're saying. Wouldn't that raise the price of vehicles?

Well, not really. Not if insurance companies - which would be the first to benefit from fewer alcohol-related crashes - footed the bill. The greatly reduced number of alcohol-related accidents - and fatalities - would make up the difference and then some, not to mention savings to taxpayers through reduced caseloads in our nation's courts.

Well, wouldn't this be a little like Big Brother - prying into our lives? some may ask.

Look around, and you'll see that's already happening. There are already spot checks along the nation's roadways for drunken drivers. And then there's a person's driving record - not to mention the detailed records insurance companies keep to determine their clients' driving habits.

The difference would be that requiring breath-control devices on vehicles would help prevent accidents BEFORE they happened.

Another possible device would be a computerized screen that would flash a series of letters and numbers for a few seconds. The driver would then have to type in that same sequence if the car were to start. Just possibly, the insurance industry would be more than happy to foot the bill for such a device.

Probably the biggest thing of all that would help, of course, would be parental involvement - parents getting into their kids' business - faces, even - and making sure they don't drink and drive. It might make for some difficult conversations, but that's the only way to overcome a difficult problem.

It's something we all need to think about.



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