SWOV Catalogus


The feasibility of voluntary ignition interlocks as a prevention strategy for young drivers.
20170539 ST [electronic version only]
Kelley-Baker, T. Taylor, E. Berning, A. Yao, J. Lauer, L. & Watson, D.
Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Transportation DOT, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, 2017, VII + 60 p. + 4 app., 10 ref.; DOT HS 812 425

Samenvatting This study’s objective was to examine the feasibility of a voluntary ignition interlock program for young drivers. Researchers conducted a series of discussions in 2010 with a select number of ignition interlock providers, insurance companies, and representatives of community groups. In addition, they held informal meetings with a select number of parents, teens and young adults to gain their input into developing such a program. Finally, researchers examined recorder data from one ignition interlock company and data from independently conducted internet surveys with parents of voluntary users and other voluntary users.1 Most often, this data was for 18- to 26-yearold users, but some of the data included older users. The study included all users to help in our understanding of the potential use of voluntary ignition interlocks with young drivers. The project was initiated through free-flowing telephone discussions with a select number of ignition interlock companies on topics relevant to the potential for successful young driver ignition interlock programs. These ranged from items relating specifically to the ignition interlock hardware (modifications, installation, usage, etc.) to marketing devices to families with teens or young adults. Regarding the hardware issues, none of the company representatives saw the need for any specific hardware changes to the ignition interlock device, and most indicated that software changes are easy and generally inexpensive. Many indicated that disabling the post-start retest was possible and easily done, but not all supported the idea. Further, only half would consider an override code for parents. Most companies had the flexibility to provide data recorder results to parents through a variety of methods (mail, e-mail, facsimile, etc.), and many offered several training options and resources to parents. Researchers also discussed the use of ignition interlocks as a primary prevention strategy with ignition interlock vendors, and some indicated that they have provided ignition interlocks for non-offender populations in other nations, mainly for commercial vehicles. In general, only a small number of clients in the United States request the ignition interlock voluntarily; most ignition interlock users are court ordered or required by a department of motor vehicles as the result of a driving-while intoxicated (DWI) offense. Interestingly, a few company representatives indicated they had unsuccessfully attempted to market a voluntary young driver ignition interlock to high schools. One company offered free installation, no contract, and a reduced monthly fee and still could not recruit families to participate. Respondents indicated that parents who were approached often believed their teens or young adult children were not at risk. Further, the device was viewed as inconvenient, and teens and young adults felt it would be an embarrassment. One representative noted that if the device were to be marketed as a preventive technology, it would be important to destigmatize the device (as its use is associated with DWI offenders) and emphasize its safety aspects. Among insurance company representatives, researchers discussed topics related to whether a voluntary ignition interlock program (or similar program using other types of monitoring devices) has been considered and/or would be supported. Of the seven representatives, all indicated they either supported or know companies that supported programs that used monitoring devices (such as speed detection devices via global positioning systems, black boxes, and in-vehicle cameras); however, only two insurers indicated that they had considered an ignition interlock program, but if it were to be supported, its use would be in a less traditional way (i.e., sensors that passively detect alcohol). Another topic discussed with insurance company representatives was the potential use of insurance policy discounts for young adult ignition interlock users and other incentives that might be used to recruit families. Some of the companies offered incentives to families to install certain kinds of monitoring devices, such as GPS controlled monitors for location, speed, and other behaviors, and a couple indicated that, although they did not offer incentives for such programs, it could be done. Generally, these possible discounts included lower premiums or reduced costs on the devices. Creating incentives for an ignition interlock, however, was generally seen as needing greater evidence for their potential benefits compared to other safety devices. In addition to potential insurance discounts, most insurance representatives felt the device itself would have to be free or subsidized to entice clients to install an ignition interlock. Respondents expressed that parents often reported that monitoring devices are a violation of trust between them and their teens or young adult children and that an ignition interlock device would be far too intrusive. Many parents do not believe their teens or young adult children needs such a device (e.g., they do not drink alcohol or wouldn’t drink and drive), a dominant theme noted by ignition interlock companies and community groups as well. Importantly, one insurance representative expressed concern over issues of liability: “Who is responsible if the young driver circumvents the device and then gets into a collision?” In all, three of the insurance representatives indicated their companies might be willing to support some kind of a program but first would need to learn more about how it might work through a pilot or demonstration project. Regarding offering insurance discounts, one dominant theme was that any discount would have to be “actuarially justified.” Company representatives indicated that research is needed that indicates such a device lowers risk, changes behavior, and makes young drivers safer. Further, when a discount or new program is introduced, insurance companies have to file it with each State in which they do business, and the State regulators would then have to approve the change. One company noted that young driver safety programs offering insurance discounts generally show a 20 to 30 percent lower crash rate than for young drivers not participating in the program. The final discussions were conducted with representatives from community groups (including parent-teacher associations, safety advocacy groups, youth education organizations) who provided input on how a program could be sponsored and promoted and how families could be recruited and how such a program might operate. The eight community groups were all experienced with young driver safety issues. Most of the groups had access to parents and young drivers, and all felt that some parents might be willing to participate in a voluntary young driver ignition interlock program. However, many of the group members indicated that, although some parents would be interested, other parents and young drivers would likely view the device as being too intrusive and overly policing. Further, some parents felt that their teens or young adult children did not “need” such a program (e.g., don’t believe their teen drinks or that their teen or young adult children would drink and drive). Community support for a voluntary young driver ignition interlock program was seen as generally necessary for it to work. One participant suggested that parents would respond to peer pressure, similar to young driver responses to peer pressure. If parents see other parents participating in the program to keep their teens or young adult children safe, they might be more willing to participate. It also was suggested that parents might be more inclined to install ignition interlock devices if schools and driver education classes promoted them. Several representatives noted that, for the ignition interlock to become socially acceptable, the perception of the ignition interlock would have to be altered and the device “rebranded” so that it is viewed as a benefit rather than a punishment. These community groups suggested that a government agency or nonprofit organization could be charged with developing a young driver ignition interlock program. It was suggested that the administrative aspects might be handled at the national level by a granting agency, but could also be maintained at the State or community level. The majority of community participants believed their community group would be willing to play a role in supporting such of program and that their preference for startup would be through a pilot or other small-scale initiative before attempting to implement a State or national program. In addition to telephone discussions with insurance groups, ignition interlock companies, and community groups, researchers held in-person discussion groups with a select number of parents, teens and young adults to learn more about the program’s potential acceptability. One set of parentyoung driver discussion groups were recruited from a high school, and the other from a community center. Both groups included low- to middle-income families. A few key features of ignition interlocks were discussed with the parent and young driver discussion groups, including the startup requirement, post-start retests, and device override options. Among parents, requiring a breath test to start the ignition interlock device was not viewed as a problem; however, both parents and young drivers indicated that young drivers might find ways to circumvent the device. The use of post-start retests received mixed reactions among parents: one group indicated no concern, and another group indicated concern that the device would be a distraction, with safety implications for their novice drivers. One group of parents felt an override option was not necessary. Regarding potential program participation (or device installation), social stigma (i.e., embarrassment) was generally not expressed as a concern by parents, nor was the issue of “trust.” Some indicated that young drivers would question the decision, but parents indicated that their child’s safety was of primary importance. Many felt, however, it would take large financial incentives to get parents onboard. Young drivers, particularly in one group, had strong opinions about parents installing the device on their vehicles, indicating that it was unfair to have these devices if they had not done anything to deserve it (i.e., not caught drinking). Most of the young drivers were resistant to the idea and would need a significant incentive to volunteer without parental coercion. Most of the young participants from the community center group neither drove nor had access to a vehicle. Thus, these participants indicated that, although young driver drinking occurred in their community and in their schools, they did not consider drinking and driving to be a big issue, and other community problems were more urgent. The potential benefits of an ignition interlock as a preventative measure were not clear to all parents. One group of parents had favorable reviews; however, the second group felt that young drivers would simply circumvent the device. Further, some parents indicated concern that young drivers might choose drugs other than alcohol because it could not be detected by the device. As a potentially effective device, one group of parents indicated it would be reasonably effective and that any improvements in reducing impaired driving among young drivers would be worth the cost although they did not think that many parents in their community would take advantage of the option if offered. Interestingly, young drivers seemed to hold views similar to their parents. They acknowledged the potential effectiveness of the device, but they, too, expressed concern that young drivers would use other drugs and could circumvent the device. Only a few of the young drivers felt that their parents might install an ignition interlock, and most felt that cost would be a big concern for their parents. To understand the potential use of voluntary ignition interlocks with families of young drivers, the researchers examined existing archival recorder data from one ignition interlock company.2 Almost 1,000 voluntary users and more than 6,000 involuntary users were included in the analysis. Of the voluntary ignition interlock users, only 74 were firmly identified as being between the ages of 16 to 26. The researchers were informed, however, that parents often lease the devices in their names for their children; therefore, the ignition interlock company felt most of these voluntary users were young drivers. Unfortunately, it was impossible to determine how many of the voluntary cases were parents of young ignition interlock users or other adults who were voluntarily on an ignition interlock. Age, gender, and duration of ignition interlock use were analyzed separately for voluntary and involuntary ignition interlock users. Then, the researchers compared the two groups for overall and monthly average breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) test intervals, based on startup tests only and based on all tests. They found that voluntary users were more likely to have higher startup BrAC tests than involuntary users. This could be related to the differential risk of further sanctioning. For voluntary users, if no one is receiving or accessing monthly data results from the ignition interlock company, they naturally will be less concerned than involuntary users about their attempts and failures to start their vehicles. Independent of this NHTSA study, PIRE conducted a small web survey to collect pilot data on the reasons why parents decide to voluntarily place ignition interlocks on the vehicles of their children (16 to 26 years old). In collaboration with an ignition interlock company, invitation letters were mailed to approximately 400 voluntary ignition interlock customers (not on ignition interlock by court order or DMV requirement) who had leased an ignition interlock device within the last 3 years. Both parents of young ignition interlock users and young ignition interlock users themselves were encourage to participate. When a young person had a “voluntary ignition interlock,” often the parent was the actual customer or ignition interlock lessee. Consequently, when providing the mailing list of voluntary customers, the ignition interlock company could not distinguish young voluntary ignition interlock users from offenders who opted to keep the ignition interlock on after the required court order or DMV order had expired, or from spouses, parents, or adult children of alcoholics who had an ignition interlock installed on the family vehicle for safety reasons. Even though the invitation letter requested young drivers and questions on the survey were geared for young voluntary ignition interlock users and their parents, some additional voluntary ignition interlock users completed the survey. Thirty-nine parents and 91 voluntary ignition interlock users responded to the survey. Reasons for having the voluntary ignition interlock device were similar among parents and users who noted alcohol-incidents and safety. Even among responses categorized as “other,” both parents and voluntary users reported issues with previous drinking and driving, general alcohol problems, and belief in safety because of using the device voluntarily. Most parents were not receiving or accessing the monthly ignition interlock data reports. As evident from the ignition interlock recorder data (which indicated greater test failures among voluntary users), monitoring is an area that would need improvement in a program for voluntary use of ignition interlock devices. Differences between parent and voluntary ignition interlock user results were primarily noted in their stated concerns regarding the effectiveness of the device when installed in the vehicle and the potential of voluntary ignition interlock devices in vehicles to reduce drinking and driving. Most parents felt strongly that the ignition interlock device is an effective strategy in reducing drinking in general and drinking and driving in particular, whereas users themselves were fairly mixed in their opinions on this topic. (Author/publisher)
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