For some time, the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been promoting the use of in-car technology that will detect the presence of a drunk driver
and prevent the car from starting. Heretofore, the technology has been pretty flaky and some studies even suggest that it's dangerous
, but the organization claimed victory when Nissan recently announced that it had incorporated the technology into one of its concept cars
. There's nothing wrong with car buyers (parents of teenagers most likely) wanting to get this feature, but MADD isn't content to see this as simply an option. The organization is clear that it would like to see this technology become mandatory, like seat belts. Of course, if you accept the logic that we could reduce crime by simply monitoring everyone's activities, there's a whole host of invasive technology we could conceivably employ for the betterment of society. What's particularly absurd about the Nissan technology is that it will work (well, supposedly work) by detecting alcohol in the air, which means that a drunk passenger could prevent the car from starting. So much for the campaign to get more designated drivers. Ultimately, some of the flaws with the existing technology could get worked out, so that it's effective. Unfortunately, once people feel that these devices work as advertised, politicians will have little reluctance to mandate them.