Despite these and other problems, such a device would be cheap and relatively effective. The kinks could probably be worked out if there were a will to implement the proposal, although there would be opposition, I suspect, from automobile manufacturers, bar and restaurant associations, and others. At the very least, if the devices were thought to be too bothersome, they could be installed in the cars of people convicted of drunken driving (and perhaps of others as well).
Weaker Case for Cell Phone Ban
The effort to ban cell phone use while driving provides a constructive contrast.
It has gained momentum in recent years in part because a few of those killed by phone-distracted drivers have been named and featured in public relations campaigns. These legal successes have occurred despite the fact that the case for banning cell phones is much weaker, in my opinion, than the case for the anti-drinking, anti-speeding measures proposed above.
However, since people respond more viscerally to a few faces than they do to overwhelming numbers, perhaps what's needed is a focus on a few of the tens of thousands of victims of speeding, drunk, or tailgating drivers.
Where are the people who say "if we could save just one life" now?
Professor of mathematics at Temple University and adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University, John Allen Paulos is the author of several best-selling books, including Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. His Who’s Counting? column on ABCNEWS.com appears the first weekend of every month.