Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Continental Automotive Trading UK Ltd



1.1 Drink driving continues to be a casualty problem in this country and still accounts for a large proportion of the fatalities and serious injuries from road accidents.

1.2 RoSPA (2011) indicates that “Although the level of drinking and driving has dropped dramatically over the last three decades, around 400 people are still killed in drink drive accidents every year (about 1 in 5 of all road deaths). Despite 30 years of drink drive education and enforcement, around 100,000 people are still caught drink driving annually.”

1.3 Alcohol interlocks can form part of a strategy, targeting drink-driving as they prevent impaired drivers from operating a vehicle when they are over the set limit for drink driving.

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Technology

2.1 Alcohol Ignition Interlocks (also called “Alcolocks”) are devices that are connected to the ignition system of a vehicle. It measures the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) of the driver and prevents the vehicle from starting, if the driver’s BrAC is over a preset limit.

2.2 Alcohol Interlocks can be fitted to a number of different types of vehicles or equipment and can log important data relating to anyone that attempts to start the vehicle whilst over the programmable alcohol limit.

Alcolock Primary and Secondary Initiatives

3.1 Alcolocks can either be implemented as a primary or secondary safety initiative.

3.2 A primary accident prevention initiative would be the use of Alcolocks in vehicles where there is no history of drink driving, and a secondary initiative is the provision of Alcolocks as part of an offender’s rehabilitation.

3.3 There are many benefits to a primary prevention initiative, for example where the vehicle is being used as a school bus (In France and Finland, legislation has been adopted, ETSC 2011) or other Passenger Carrying Vehicle and if the vehicle is being used for transporting dangerous or high risk goods.

3.4 A secondary safety initiative is to require Alcolocks to be used where drivers have been convicted of drink driving and in particular repeat offenders, as Alcolocks will prevent them from driving under the influence of alcohol.

3.5 A number of studies have shown a large reduction in the likelihood of a convicted drink driver being convicted of the same offence again whilst an Alcolock is installed, compared to convicted drink drivers without an Alcolock.

3.6 For example the Dutch Alcolock programme (ETSC’s Newsletter on Drink Driving Policy Developments in the EU, 2011) is a two year mandatory programme for the rehabilitation of drink driving offenders. The expectation is that in the short term they expect to save five to six lives on their roads and prevent 50–60 drivers from getting injured each year and in the long term they believe that they could save 30 lives and 300 injured drivers each year.

3.7 European Transport Safety Council’s (ETSC) Alcolock legislation barometer (March 2011) gives an overview of the latest situation within Europe for new legislation on the use of alcolocks either within the commercial or rehabilitation context:


Pilot project ongoing

Legislation in preparation

Legislation in discussion with Parliament

Legislation adopted

Legislation in implementation


Commercial Transport

Voluntary use of Alcolocks in commercial



√ for school buses

√ for school buses




√ for use in rehabilitation programmes and first time offenders

√ for school buses

√ for school buses




3.8 A trial of an alcohol ignition interlock programme in Britain (Road Safety Research Report 88, DfT, 2008) in which Alcolocks were fitted to the vehicles of convicted drink drive offenders prevented participants from trying to start their vehicle with alcohol in their system, including 328 occasions when the level of alcohol was above the drink drive limit. Also many of the participants indicated that the devices made them think seriously about their drinking, if not help change their drinking patterns outright. In total, 54% of interlock participants reported consuming less alcohol at month 18 than at the beginning of the study.

Summary and Recommendations

4.1 One of the recent countermeasures to drink-driving is the use of alcohol ignition interlocks, a technological solution that prevents the engine from starting if a breath sample containing alcohol by the driver is above a set limit. As Alcolocks have shown that they can provide a way of preventing drink driving, and thus reduce the number of road casualties, legislation should be considered for the mandatory use of Alcolocks in the UK especially where drivers have been convicted of drink driving. Furthermore this type of preventative measure for drink driving helps to relieve the pressure on police and other enforcement resources, and enable these to be targeted better.


Beirness, D J, Clayton, A and Vanlaar, W (2008) An Investigation of the Usefulness, the Acceptability and Impact on Lifestyle of Alcohol Ignition Interlocks in Drink-Driving Offenders. Road Safety Research Report 88.

ETSC’s Newsletter on Drink Driving Policy Developments in the EU, Drink Driving Monitor, Issue April 2011, Number 13.

RoSPA Road Safety Information, April 2011.

October 2011

Prepared 18th July 2012