France Mandates A DIY Breathalyzer Kit


Last week I wrote about the Decade of Action for Road Safety. I am on a mission to look globally at what is happening around the world to reduce car accident deaths and injuries.

Recently I stumbled upon a very interesting approach by France’s President Sarkozy. Macleans magazine reported that France is the first country to mandate its motorists to carry a Breathalyzer kit. After November 2012, anyone caught driving without one can be fined 15 Euros. This strategy is aimed at reducing the 4,000 annual road-traffic deaths in France. One third of those are attributed to alcohol, the highest stats in Europe.

France has a legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.05. The country issues very stiff penalties for blowing over 0.08, including up to € 6,000 in fines and possible prison terms.

To support its increased focus on road safety, France has been diligent in implementing roadside checks and speed cameras. All have reduced the number of fatalities. But will mandating drivers to have a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) Breathalyzer effectively complement these other strategies? Will people who have had too much to drink pull out their Breathalyzer? If they blow over the limit, will that encourage drivers to get out from behind the wheel? It only takes a drink or two to be impaired, so why even bother with the kit? If you have had any alcohol, the best prevention method could simply be, DON’T DRIVE. And what about all the people who don’t even drink and drive but are mandated to purchase and carry a kit? Is that a fair driver requirement?

Having been to France several times, I can tell you that it is all too easy to drink and drive in that region of the world. Great wine is affordable and accessible. The public transportation infrastructure is limited outside of the big cities. So enjoy the best wine in the world, but plan ahead to get home safely.


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