How Do We Prevent Adults Who Shouldn't Be Driving From Driving?

Automologist LING tries to make sense of this almost-tragedy in Ohio. I wrote about the terrible tragedy of a baby who died in a hot ca...

Automologist LING tries to make sense of this almost-tragedy in Ohio.

I wrote about the terrible tragedy of a baby who died in a hot car less than a month ago, and since last week, I’ve been seeing these images popping up on my social media feed:

An Ohio officer had spotted a Ford Explorer swerving erratically behind a school bus. When the bus stopped to let children off, the SUV braked hard and drifted into another street. These sobering photos show what the police saw at the scene. The woman, who is the boy’s grandmother, and her boyfriend were barely conscious, and a piece of paper with traces of a powdery substance, which police believe was heroin, were found. According to accounts, the four-year-old boy in the backseat was stoic, as if he had seen it all before. 

The East Liverpool Police Department said it shared the photos via social media, on Thursday, to bring attention to an issue which has reached epic proportions. The Internet, of course, is divided. Some call it public shaming and an ineffective deterrent; others say that the adults deserved it.

I have no comments either way. I have no insights into the motivations of a drug user, nor am I so ready to condemn them because I lack exactly that of which I write in the first part of this sentence. I cannot judge them as guardians because I do not have children of my own. I simply think that there has to be a way to prevent drivers, who are temporarily incompetent or incapacitated, from starting the car engine.

My fellow Automologist wrote about the UK introducing Drugalyser tests and in France, drivers are required to tote their own breathalyser around (although, there is no fine imposed if the police stops you and find you without one, so what’s the point, really). But all these don’t prevent the inebriated or drugged-up drivers from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

I’m thinking a fingerprint scanner integrated into the car, like the one in the movie Gattaca, which pricks your finger and takes a drop of blood for testing, before the car engine can be started. Not realistic? Then maybe a puzzle, like Sudoku, that appears on the car's touchscreen, to test your current mental capacity, and by extension, you current ability to drive.

You might think me foolish and perhaps I am. More realistically, I suppose, are self-driving cars, which removes the necessity for drivers, and that includes incompetent ones. If fully autonomous cars are the solution to so many road problems, I think they can't come soon enough.


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