(HealthDay News) -- Installation of an alcohol interlock device in all new U.S. vehicles is estimated to be cost-effective in preventing alcohol-related crash fatalities and injuries, according to a study published online March 19 in theAmerican Journal of Public Health.
Patrick M. Carter, M.D., from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified fatal and nonfatal injuries associated with drinking driver vehicle crashes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and National Automotive Sampling System's General Estimates System data sets (2006 to 2010). The impact of universal interlock installation was estimated using the proportion of alcohol-related crashes that were preventable in vehicles less than one year-old, assuming 15-year implementation.
The researchers found that over 15 years, 85 percent of crash fatalities (>59,000) and 84 to 88 percent of nonfatal injuries (>1.25 million) attributed to drinking drivers would be prevented, saving an estimated $342 billion in injury-related costs. The greatest injury and cost benefit would be realized among recently legal drinking drivers. After three years, cost savings outweighed installation costs, with the policy remaining cost-effective provided device effectiveness remained above approximately 25 percent.
"Alcohol interlock installation in all new vehicles is likely a cost-effective primary prevention policy that will substantially reduce alcohol-involved crash fatalities and injuries, especially among young vulnerable drivers," the authors write.