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All Tests
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Driving 8 - Alcohol Test

What is an Alcoguard? It is an ignition locking device. We already know about the fatigue sensor. In this case, the question may well be posed, whether we need something, that we feel anyhow, to be shown on the display. The alcohol lock-out has a more powerful effect. If one blows into the mouthpiece of the portable part, which is about the size of a remote control, it's possible that you will be prevented from driving at all. However, the device must first be calibrated to the respective blood/alcohol limit (0,3 to 0,8 thousands).

To set your minds at ease, the Alcoguard is optional. It will only become compulsory when, e.g., a company decides to equip the entire fleet with them. In countries like the Netherlands, if one is caught drinking and driving, one has the choice between losing one's driver's licence for five years or, the Alcoguard. Apparently, also other countries are just about ready to introduce this measure.

So, it's more the company cars, which are equipped, for the price of just under €1000, in the case of Volvo's Alcoguard (2009). Now, what's the resale value of a car with an alcohol lock-out like? Can the insurance companies offer a lower premium on cars like this? They won't be easy to sell. After all, once a year it has to be recalibrated in the workshop, which is however, not expensive.

Apparently, there are the smart-alecs, who who keep a certain stock of fresh air handy, e.g., in the shape of a balloon. However, the device can apparently, recognise how old the air is. As the title of the pictures shows, it works along the lines of the fuel-cell, which also makes laptops independent from a wall plug for a longer period of time. We haven't yet been able to find out how it reacts to the passenger's breath.

The procedure one has to follow is: Do not eat anything 5 minutes before the test. Don't use the windscreen washer because it contains spirits which may be detected. The test should take place in, or near enough to the car. Otherwise, it must be transmitted to the car by pressing a button. At temperatures of under -5°C, up to 3 minutes of warm-up time must be calculated. One should drive off inside of 5 minutes after the successful test, a pause of more than 30 minutes, means that you may have to repeat the test.

The whole thing is very similar to the treatment of smokers. They are also tormented, until they give up smoking. Recently, there are complaints that the smokers go outside in droves, stand around in groups and are loud. Now, where can they be sent, where they can't be heard? In an emergency situation one can bypass the breathalyzer-test: Indeed, the system will take it's revenge, because the situation will be saved to memory and from then onwards, will be shown in the display, which only the workshop can erase.

Culprits in the Netherlands have even more of a hard time. They have to take the test three times per hour. Any irregularities are reported to the authorities. Apart from that, they are given a stamp on their driving licences, so that the world can see what they've done. Then there are the expenses: €100/month for the device-rental and €1000 for the compulsory group-therapy.

Finally, allow me one further comment: I certainly do not approve of drinking and driving. The grief caused by it is bad enough. However, surely the occasional offhand comment against the ever increasing technical war against deeply-rooted problems, should be permitted.

The technique of detection from alcohol-filled air is likely to change radically. No longer the car itself controls but a special laser on the roadside with mirror on the opposite side. The laser beam passes through twice the vehicle's interior at speeds up to 100 km/h and is weakened by alcoholized air, and only through this so that therewith drunken drivers can be caught.

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