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Could Ignition Interlock Devices Cause North Carolina Distracted Driving Accidents?

In North Carolina, just like the majority of states in the country, drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving often are required to install ignition interlock devices (IID) in their vehicles. The purpose of these devices is to prevent a person from driving if they are under the influence of alcohol. In order to start the vehicle, the driver must blow into a breathalyzer. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start.

distracted driving accident attorney

The regulations regarding IIDs also require the driver to do a periodic running test. At random intervals, while the vehicle is moving, the driver is required to again blow into the breathalyzer to test his or her breath alcohol concentration. If there is alcohol present, the vehicle's horn will begin blowing, sirens go off, or lights will begin flashing as a way to alert other drivers and any law enforcement in the area.

Although the use of IIDs as a preventative to drunk driving is a solid one, questions about the safety of running tests have been raised because of the possibility that either performing the test or the noise from failing a running test could cause enough distractions to cause a car crash.

Effects of Distracted Driving

According to multiple studies, any activity that takes a driver’s brain, eyes, or hands away from actually operating their vehicle is considered a risky driving distraction. When the driver is notified they have to submit to a running test, there is only a short window of time to respond to that notification. Most drivers either will not or do not have the opportunity to pull over in a safe area to provide a breath sample into the IID, but instead, will submit the sample while they are still driving.

This testing involves visually locating the IID and checking the display screen for messages. The driver must then use one hand to submit their breath test. Once they have finished, the driver is required to check for any messages on the device screen before placing the device back where it was. During this whole process, the driver is using their mind, their eyes, and their hands to submit to the test – all the while taking their complete focus off the road.

The amount of time it takes and the activity required to submit to an IID is similar to a person reading a text message on their cell phone while they are driving. And we all know the tragic results that happen every day as a result of drivers using their cell phones when they are behind the wheel.

Contact a Carolinas Personal Injury Attorney

Distracted drivers are not just those who use their cell phones. Drivers who are dealing with car electronics, GPS devices, or a host of other distractions can lose full attention to the road around them and cause serious car crashes. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driving, contact a skilled North Carolina car accident attorney to discuss what type of financial compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.  

Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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