Professor David Nutt of Imperial College, London and president of the British Neuroscience Association has proposed that every car should have an alcohol sensor fitted, preventing anyone from starting their car should the sensor decide they are over the legal limit (known as an alcohol ignition interlock).
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Nutt said that some countries already used the in-car breathalyzers to ensure that people convicted of drink-driving cannot take to the wheel whilst under the influence of alcohol, but he had an even more radical idea:
“You could potentially have it so that was true of all cars – everybody would have to breathe in [to the device] before they were able to drive away,” he said.
“You hear about terrible accidents when four or five young people die simultaneously in the one car because the driver’s been drunk. It could save a lot of lives.”
In addition to the breathalyzer idea, Professor Nutt has also proposed the establishment of a network of coffee shops, similar to those in the Netherlands, where people could buy small quantities of cannabis for personal use. He believes that if these were set up in Britain, up to 25% of the population would switch from drinking alcohol to smoking cannabis, and this would result in less drunken behaviour and violence.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of young people and they would prefer to go out and have a joint than get drunk – but they have no choice. ”
Whilst it is possible that should measures such as this be adopted, it might result in cheap car insurance, many people would probably resist the introduction of a “big brother” device in their car that restricts personal freedom.