Russia Eyes Factory In-car Breathalyzers

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
russia eyes factory in car breathalyzers

That shiny new Lada you’ve always wanted might one day come with an unexpected bit of equipment: an ignition interlock set free by non-boozy breath.

That’s what Russia’s industry ministry would like to see installed in cars before they even leave the factory, but reaching this goal — like trying to put on a pair of tight-fitting shoes after polishing off a 26er of Stolichnaya — will likely prove a challenge.

Russia’s impaired driving rate has declined over the past couple of decades, the result of many factors, but the country remains far ahead of its European Neighbors in terms of its traffic death rate. In 2014, the country’s rate was six times higher than that of the EU’s, and impaired driving played a role in this.

As they have in the past, Russian lawmakers want to narrow the gap. As reported by Reuters, the country’s industry ministry aims to craft a plan before the end of the year to curb boozy motoring. Specifically, it wants to see install ignition interlocks in as many vehicles as possible. The plan might outline new government initiatives designed to encourage the use of such breathalyzer devices, but it might also flesh out ways to convince automakers to install the devices at the factory.

It would take some considerable legislative muscle to compel the industry to follow suit, given that the addition would add complexity and cost. And it would have to be an across-the-board thing, otherwise automakers selling cars without the safety nanny would hold an advantage over their competition. And what about imports? It’s a complex issue.

Which might be why this isn’t the first time Russia has tried to make interlocks a widespread thing. Past attempts failed. Time will tell what becomes of this effort. Meanwhile, the ministry did not respond to Reuters‘ request for comment.

From Reuters:

Russians have long had a reputation as ferocious drinkers, but alcoholic consumption has fallen by an estimated 43% from 2003 to 2016, according to a World Health Organization study last year.

Russia remains a nation of heavy drinkers, but the study linked the fall in consumption to higher alcohol excise taxes, policies clamping down on home-made alcohol and the raising of the minimum price for vodka.

President Vladimir Putin has long cultivated an image of sobriety in contrast to his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, whom many Russians associate with drunken and embarrassing gaffes.

A series of laws that came into effect in 2013 and 2014 imposed new fines and penalties on Russian drivers caught with too much booze in their bloodstream (0.16 is the don’t-cross line in that country, not the more typical 0.08). Mandatory prison sentences await drunk drivers who kill.

[Images: Lada]

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  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Aug 01, 2020

    I kind of like the looks of the 4x4. It kinda looks like a 5/3s Festiva.

  • Pveezy Pveezy on Aug 01, 2020

    All Vodka jokes aside, I always wondered why these weren’t regulated in all cars. Not that I WANT a breathalyzer in my car... but we live in a world where every conceivable piece of safety tech is legislated from seatbelts to pedestrian safe bumpers to the law saying you need a rear camera to keep you from running over your own kids... surprised they haven’t taken this obvious step that would significantly reduce drunk driving.

  • Kcflyer The solution is harsh punishment, long prison terms, for car thieves. I suggest two weeks for first offense (unless they run from the cops or commit other offenses. Second offense, thirty years hard labor. That should do it.
  • Oberkanone Installing immobilizer is the answer. It's not hard. It's not expensive.
  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.