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A novel idea for preventing DUIs

For decades states have wrestled with the problem of reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving. A recent article in the Denver Post describes an innovating approach Colorado is taking:

They're giving individual breathalyzers -- breath test machines -- away.

Better you test yourself than the police

It's just an experiment at this point, but the state is weighing whether it wouldn't be a good idea to hand out personal breathalyzers to people who have already been convicted of drunk driving.

Colorado's Department of Transportation wants to see if individuals who have been drinking can show better judgment if they know what their current blood alcohol number is. If drivers see their level is above 0.08 percent, many will say, "I better not drive right now."

Participants in the experiment are required to report back with their experiences and opinions. The experiment selected drivers who already have one DUI conviction.

Many drinkers make rational decisions

Early numbers indicate the experiment has merit. Eighty-four percent of drivers who used the breathalyzers reported said that it made them more conscious of their own level of intoxication - and less likely to slide behind the wheel.

CDOT wants to understand better how people who drink think about their own drinking and driving. If the experiment shows that people are simply not rational about the safety of others, the idea will not be expanded statewide or to other states.

This is an important experiment because one-third of all fatal crashes - whether in Colorado, Georgia or any other state - involve alcohol.

The logic of the analysis is straightforward. Cars are equipped with so many safety devices - why not equip them with an instrument that tells us if we are fit to drive?

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