WTVM Editorial 11/14/23: The Kill Switch

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 1:59 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Republicans and Democrats actually came together last week to support the government monitoring of drivers.

The plan is to equip every new car after 2026 with technology to detect drunk or drugged driving - and then be able to shut down the car if the driver is impaired.

It sounds like a miracle. Who doesn’t want fewer drunk drivers on the road?

Except it’s not a miracle, nor is it practical or even wise to mandate such a device for everyone.

The mandate is buried in the huge 2021 Infrastructure and Investments Act, that’s supposed to fund new bridges and roads. Some critics call the technology that would detect driver impairment “a kill switch,” because the ultimate aim of the device is to shut down the car.

It’s worth considering whether that technology would then breed a new class of bureaucrats to act on the data and potentially control your car. But those in favor of the devices argue the law does not give driver data to anyone.

Maybe not now, but it wouldn’t be the first time the government grew to fill a need that didn’t exist.

About 10,000 people die every year in drunk driving accidents and that’s horrific. Another million drivers are arrested for DUI.

The good news is the insurance industry says between 1991 and 2017, the rate of drunk driving fatalities dropped 50%, thanks to consistent policing and publicity about the dangers of impaired driving.

We need to keep that societal pressure on. Drunk driving is deadly, illegal, morally wrong, and costly.

What we don’t need is the government mandating special technology in every car to monitor the entire driving population.