The country that brought the world some its finest vodkas may soon sell cars that won’t start if you’ve had one drink too many for the road.
Swedish car company Saab reportedly said on Thursday it was considering offering with its cars a key fob with a built-in breath analyser the size of a pin-head that would shut down the engine if the driver had more to drink than the legal limit.
According to Reuters, the “Alcokey” is equipped with a small mouthpiece into which a driver must blow to determine an alcohol level. Saab, a division of General Motors, reportedly said the car could sell well in Europe, where company-operated fleet cars for executives are common.
“Those companies will want to put a good, positive face forward to the public and one of the ways that they can do that is to equip their fleet of vehicles with an item like this to ensure that their employees don’t drink and drive,” Saab spokesman Kevin Smith told the news agency.
Reuters noted that corporate fleets are less popular in the United States. But Americans, especially with driving-age children, may also be interested in Saab and the Alcokey, which could arrive on the market within a few years, Smith reportedly said.
“We certainly applaud any of these major automotive companies that are concerned about the drunk driving issue, who are coming up with innovative ways to deal with the problem,” Wendy Hamilton, president of the US chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told the news agency.
Saab told Reuters the Alcokey is still under development but could cost about $US300, a fraction of the cost of a similar system if installed inside the vehicle. Smith reportedly said the device could eventually be offered by GM’s mainstream American brands such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Pontiac and Buick.
Reuters said that Smith acknowledged that some drivers who have had too much to drink could try to fool the analyser by having teetotaler friends blow into it: “It’s not fool-proof.”
The report noted that some engine-locking devices used by US courts for habitual drunk driving offenders have built-in voice recognition systems that prevent friends or compressed air devices such as balloons from being used to start the car.
“As they (Saab) develop this further, they’ll be working on ways to stop people from circumventing the system,” Smith told Reuters.