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How to fight impaired driving -- Bill Walters

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Impaired driving has become an epidemic in Wisconsin. Every year hundreds of people lose their lives due to alcohol-related driver impairment alone.

Then there are the injuries (near misses). Who knows how many incidents just escape detection? And what about opioid impairment? It's not insignificant.

Even though ignition interlock devices, which are used to prevent alcohol-impaired driving, cannot detect opioids, alcohol is a common denominator. Alcohol is often used in conjunction with opioids. Interlock devices that don't allow a vehicle to start without a clean breath test, could work in those instances.

Perhaps we should have immediate mandatory installation of interlock devices on all new vehicles going forward and supplement the cost. We've got to start somewhere. Who knows, there might be surprise parental demand because of concern for higher-risk teenagers and young adults.

This concept is radical, but so were seat-belt laws decades ago. People adapted, and the vast majority now accept and comply. It saved countless lives. The same could be said for interlock devices. Not only will it save those who may become a victim of an impaired driver, it will save the impaired driver from themselves.

Bill Walters, Fitchburg


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