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Buses and Cabs Should Adopt 'Alcohol Locks,' Says Expert

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

With no clear sign from the government on whether to adopt alcohol interlock devices for vehicles, private companies should take the initiative, a Road Administration official says.

Breath alcohol ignition interlock systems, as they are known, are electronic devices integrated into a vehicle's ignition that allow the driver to start the engine only after passing a breathalyzer test.

Speaking on ETV, Villu Vane, an adviser for the Road Administration, encouraged the use of the device for cabs and buses despite a lack of interest from officials. Another approach would be to require the devices for people with a history of drunken driving, Vane said.

Swedish and Finnish passenger transport companies were among the first to introduce the device, Vane said.

Drunken Driving on the Decline

TISPOL, the European traffic police network, has conducted a long-term study in cooperation with local police forces in 30 European countries to find out what percentage of drivers tested for a blood-alcohol level are caught over the legal limit.

Cyprus had the worst results, with 7.9 percent of drivers tested found to be over the limit. Switzerland (4.5 percent), Slovenia (4 percent) and Belgium (2.5 percent) followed.

Riho Tänak, a commissar of the Police and Border Guard Board, said that corresponding figures for Estonia were not mentioned in the study as Estonia is a fairly new member of TISPOL and the study relied on long-term statistics.

But Estonian police forces have calculated that the figure is around 1.6 or 1.7 percent, down from 3 percent in 2002, Tänak said.

In Finland, only 0.2 percent of drivers were found over the legal limit.

The number of traffic accidents in Estonia involving drunken drivers has fallen from 503 in 2002 to 170 in 2012.

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