Do Ignition Interlocks Have A Blind Spot?

An ignition interlock is a device that can be wired into a vehicle's electrical system in order to make sure it cannot be started until the driver provides a breath sample to be checked for signs of alcohol. There are now some 300,000 ignition interlocks in active use in the U.S. and that number is growing rapidly. It seems pretty self explanatory that these devices can save live. They prevent drivers from starting their vehicles while intoxicated. That has to be a win for vehicle safety, right? Well, not always.

A recent article in the New York Times highlights a potential fatal flaw in these ignition interlocks: Almost all of them make drivers perform checks at random times while the vehicle is moving. This feature is meant to stop someone from beginning a drive sober but having drinks along the way, but as shown in the Times' article, randomly asking a driver to do any task beyond driving can be extremely hazardous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked like it was going to outlaw rolling retests, but it dropped a mandate that drivers pull over to retest after receiving intense industry pushback. How a driver would even pull over while in fast moving traffic is a question that no one from the government or ignition interlock industry really wanted to answer.

The Times did some investigation work and found over fifty incidents that ignition interlocks were cited as a reason for an accident or crash in Virginia alone. But, the Times notes, this number is almost certainly heavily under reported. And the data comes from just one state. The fact that most of the reported accidents came back when there were far fewer ignition interlocks on the road is also a bit worrisome.

In addition to ignition interlocks potentially being more distracting than cell phones, there is also the issue of false positives, the Times says. Ignition interlocks use the same alcohol sensing equipment that portable police breathalyzer units use, but those units are known to be imprecise, especially when not properly maintained, and sometimes tests conducted with them are not allowed as evidence in court.

Again, it seems like common sense that these ignition interlocks can save lives by preventing intoxicated drivers from starting their cars in the first place, but it does seem more questionable that drivers are asked to perform rolling retests while driving when study after study shows that even minor distractions while driving can lead to a collision.

The full article over at the New York Times provides more examples of how these ignition interlocks seem to have some blind spots. You can give it a read by clicking here.


Help Keep New Year's Happy By Not Drinking & Driving

The New Year's holiday is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Partiers who think they can get home after having a few drinks can easily ruin their own lives and the lives of others when it turns out they can't.

Texas ranks 7th for number of drunk driving deaths on New Year's Eve according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to statistics, some 44 people lost their lives during the New Year's Holiday in Texas alone. Another 171 were seriously injured, and over 4,000 had their New Year's holiday otherwise ruined due to drunk drivers.

Each year, the message is the same: Don't drink and drive. If you do have some drinks, get a cab or a ride share to take you home. Check around. There are often great deals and even free rides offered on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

But, maybe the best take on holiday drinking and driving comes from a Pennsylvania State University article written a few years ago titled: 10 Times It's Totally Okay To Drive Drunk On New Year's.

(Hint. The answer is "Never.")

We hope you have a great New Year's. Please stay safe out there.


Tips For Staying Safe on New Year's Eve 2018

Tips For Staying Safe on New Year's Eve 2018

It's one of the most fun and exciting holidays of the year. There are fireworks, bonfires, and sparklers all around and large amounts of people gathered together. It's a time to think about how far we have come as well as the goals we have for the future. However, for some the new year will begin with a DWI charge on their record and some jail time. It's important to be smart on this holiday and plan for any potential mistakes that may come your way. Here are our top safety tips to keep your new year moving in a positive direction.
Forget the Alcohol
This will be a hard tip to follow for most people, but it could end up saving lives. If you have been designated as the driver for the night, this is your only option. When you think about it, this can only help you with drunk drivers all around the roads and cops keeping a look out on every turn.
Have a Sleepover
If you find yourself out at a New Year's Eve and you think you've had too much to drink don't be embarrassed to ask to stay the night.  Any good host will have already made sure this was possible for their guests. A good thing to keep in mind is that you can always ask ahead of time if this is an option. If not, you might want to think about going to another party.
Pick a Driver
Make sure you and your group have chosen a reliable and responsible driver to get everyone home safe. There are plenty of New Year's Eve activities to partake in for fun besides drinking. Try and stay encouraging to your DD and help them have fun without the drinks.
Download Uber or Lyft
Choosing a ride share option is one of the smartest and easiest ways to avoid drunk driving on this holiday. Make things even easier by downloading and creating an account with the app before the party even starts.
At Martin Walker Law, we want to encourage all East Texans to stay safe out there on New Year's Eve. It's important to have fun on this holiday, but it's not worth it if you get hurt or if you cause someone else to get in an accident. Happy New Year! Stay safe out there.


Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

The statistics have been clear for many years now. The night of New Year's Eve and morning of New Year's Day are some of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Most years, drunk driving related accidents spike by 70% or more during the early morning hours of New Year's day. Each year upwards of 120 people lose their lives over the holiday season related drunk driving crashes. Understandably, it is also one of the most dangerous times of the year for pedestrians. Some 20 pedestrians will likely die this New Year's by being hit by a vehicle.

Fortunately, these statistics don't have to be this high. In Tyler, we have several options that can let you have an enjoyable holiday while keeping yourself and others safe.

  • We have multiple quality cab companies in Tyler that will be glad to help you or your friends or family members home safely. Often times they even offer discounts or even free rides to help keep people safe during the New Year's holiday.
  • This New Year also marks the first time Tyler has had Uber operating in town. Like with a cab company, booking a ride home with Uber is a great way to have fun and then get home safe.
  • Another good option is to plan your celebrations in a way designed to keep you and your guests off the roads, especially during the overnight hours.
  • Finally, if you need to be on the road this New Year's Eve, take extra care to watch out for erratic drivers and please don't contribute to the problem by drinking and driving yourself.

We hope you'll stay safe this holiday season and have a great new year. It's important to note that each year, we advise all who are drinking during the holiday season to utilize the local Tyler taxi service, or an Uber.


Ways To Stay Safe On The Road This New Year

While their are fewer overall driving deaths on New Years Eve and New Years Day than on some other holidays, the hours between 6pm on Dec 31st and 6am on Jan 1st are one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. The combination of holiday travel, late night parties, and alcohol push the number of crashes and driving related deaths during that period far higher than almost any other night of the year.
There are any number of statistics out there about how dangerous New Years driving is. You can find a good summary of the reasons not to be on the road during New Years here.
So, what's the best way to stay safe during the New Years holiday?

  • Don't drive unless you have to. Play it smart and stay off the roads.
  • Consider using a designated driver, cab service, or ride sharing service if do need to get somewhere, especially if you are coming home from a New Years party.
  • Above all, if you must drive this New Years, don't drive drunk.

From all of us at Martin Walker, P.C., we hope you have happy and safe new year.


Personal Breathalyzers, A New Tool To Help Prevent Drunk Driving?

With Thanksgiving now behind us, the final two big holidays of the year are fast approaching. The New Years holiday is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving, but perhaps a new trend can help make it safer in the years to come. More and more people are buying and using personal breathalyzers.
Though they aren't yet in widespread use, a recent study by the National Safety Council showed that up to 26% of those that responded had at one time either used a personal breathalyzer themselves or used one to help convince a friend that they were too impaired to drive safely.
Personal breathalyzers come in a variety of form factors ranging from one-time-use tubes that don't require batteries, to smartphone connected devices, all the way up to professional tools used by law enforcement. While the accuracy of individual breathalyzers can vary quite a bit, even the less accurate versions can be a good tool to help prevent others from driving drunk.


No Reason To Drink and Drive This New Year's Day


The statistics have been clear for many years now. The night of New Year's Eve and morning of New Year's Day are some of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Most years, drunk driving related accidents spike by 70% or more during the early morning hours of New Year's day. Each year upwards of 120 people lose their lives in New Year's related drunk driving crashes. Understandably, it is also one of the most dangerous times of the year for pedestrians. Some 20 pedestrians will likely die this New Year's by being hit by a vehicle.

Fortunately, these statistics don't have to be this high. In Tyler, we have several options that can let you have an enjoyable New Year while keeping yourself and others safe.

  • We have multiple quality cab companies in Tyler that will be glad to help you or your friends or family members home safely. Often times they even offer discounts or even free rides to help keep people safe during the New Year's holiday.
  • This New Year also marks the first time Tyler has had Uber operating in town. Like with a cab company, booking a ride home with Uber is a great way to have fun and then get home safe.
  • Another good option is to plan your celebrations in a way designed to keep you and your guests off the roads, especially during the overnight hours.
  • Finally, if you need to be on the road this New Year's Eve, take extra care to watch out for erratic drivers and please don't contribute to the problem by drinking and driving yourself.

We hope you'll stay safe this New Year holiday and have a great new year.


City Council Approves City Ordinance Allowing Uber in Tyler, Texas

The Tyler City Council has approved a revision of a city ordinance that will allow ride-sharing companies to operate within Tyler, Texas. Uber will officially launch operations in Tyler this fall.  Tyler is now the fourteenth city in Texas to adopt a ride-sharing friendly ordinance.
The advantages and benefits of having a service like Uber in Tyler are excellent for our community, and we had a big part in bringing the service to Tyler. In addition to increasing the overall level of modern conveniences available to us in Tyler, we think a modern, convenient service like Uber will decrease late night, alcohol-related incidences in Tyler and help make the public and the streets safer in the long run. Martin Walker Law wanted to help usher in the foundation of Uber in Tyler because we saw the public safety advantages that ride-sharing services could bring to the city and the burgeoning downtown scene. The company applauded the City of Tyler for approving new "modern ride-sharing rules that prioritize public safety and access to safe, reliable transporation." Residents will now be able to go enjoy a night on the town, have drinks, have fun, and not have to worry about getting a ride home or consider driving themselves home. You just open up the Uber app on your smartphone and request a ride - your Uber will be there in minutes to bring you home safely.
Uber drivers must pass a rigorous test and background check, and have an approved vehicle to be able to drive for Uber. Bringing this service to Tyler also brings with it an added industry and economy; it gives locals the ability to make extra cash on the side, at their own pace. Beth Huddleston, Uber's General Manager, said, "We are thrilled that the City of Tyler has chosen to embrace Uber. The passage of this ordinance means that residents, students, and visitors will soon be able to get a ride or earn extra money at the touch of a button." If you are interested in becoming a driver for Uber in Tyler, you can apply here.


Help Keep The Roads Safer This New Year

Help Keep The Roads Safer This New Year

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New Year’s Eve and the early morning hours of New Year’s Day are some of the most risky times to be on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, half of all fatal New Year’s accidents involve drunk drivers and only the far busier Thanksgiving holiday sees more overall deaths each year. January 1st is also the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrians with an average of 22 people being struck and killed each year.
Help make this New Year’s holiday safer, don’t try to drive if you have been drinking. If you do plan to drink, please plan ahead and use a designated driver.