Following a particularly nasty crash a couple of years ago on the M1 involving a coach full of passengers and one over-the-limit driver, National Express have been trialling the use of the Interlock Breathalyser systems on their fleet of coaches out of Birmingham. Two years on, and finally it is official – they are installing them on their entire fleet of coaches – more than 500 vehicles. (‘National Express fit Alcolocks to its coach fleet’ BBC News, 10 February 2010)
The driver of the M1 crash had apparently come home from holiday and spent the whole night up drinking alone, before going to work to do the Birmingham-Stanstead Airport route. He mistook a sliproad to a service station as a junction, and came off the road at 57mph hitting a tree and a lamp post. When tested he gave a reading of 145 milligrammes per 100ml of blood – with the legal limit being 80. Incredibly, everyone survived – just. 33 injuries, 7 severe, 1 amputation.
He has been jailed for 10 months, given a 4 year ban for drink-driving, a 2 year disqualification for dangerous driving and a fine of £500. Not to mention losing his career and the respect of his friends and family.
Hopefully this should start to become a rarity as more and more companies realise the importance of installing a device that will prevent the vehicle from even starting without a clear breath sample being produced. Whilst its admirable that National Express have taken this route, we need the rest to follow – why should ANY passenger be at risk?
The Interlock is most commonly used for companies such as National Express, but we have had a few personal users have them installed as a means of ensuring their car cannot be driven by anyone over the (preset) limit. Examples would include the family car used by teenagers (giving the parents the comfort of knowing it CANNOT start if the driver has drunk anything), the concerned family of an elderly driver who seemed in denial about the amount consumed at various social events, and even those who have had a drink-drive conviction in the past and never wish to repeat the experience.
Have a look at the Interlock on our website here – it could save a life.