Could Norway introduce mandatory inbuilt car breathalysers?

Could Norway introduce mandatory inbuilt car breathalysers?
Traffic in Oslo. Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels
Norway should implement inbuilt breathalysers in all commercial and private vehicles, a trade union group has said.

The United Federation of Trade Unions is lobbying for the introduction of ignition interlock devices, which prevent a car from being started if the driver is over the legal alcohol limit, in all cars.

“All motor vehicles, both private cars and commercial vehicles, should have ignition interlock devices as standard,” Geir Kvam, an advisor to the Social Policy Department at the United Federation of Trade Unions, told newspaper Dagavisen.

“Driving under the influence is very serious with massive potential for accidents. An inbuilt breathalyser is an effective tool that can prevent drink driving,” he added.

Labour politician Marit Nybakk is also in favour of inbuilt breathalysers.

“I believe that all use of ignition interlock devices can help reduce accidents and fatalities in traffic, a goal that is set out in the zero vision [target for zero traffic accident fatalities, ed.] that parliament adopted. The most important thing (to help achieve the goal) is to prevent drink-driving, which is a criminal offence,” Nybakk told Dagavisen.

Work is currently underway in both Norway and the EU to expand the use of inbuilt car breathalysers. Kvam said he believes it may be some time before we see the breathalysers introduced.

“This is being worked on in the EU, but there is a long way to go, including coordinating a common European alcohol limit and equal penalties,” he said. 

Kvam has provided input to the EU committee assessing the use of ignition interlocks and has suggested a limit of a 0.02 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Blood Alcohol Concentration refers to the percentage of alcohol in one’s bloodstream. In Norway, the drink driving limit is a BAC of 0.02.

This is roughly equivalent to a beer, glass of wine or one single measure spirit and mixer beverage.

If you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.05 and above in Norway, it will result in a driving ban. A BAC of 0.05 is equivalent to about three beers, three glasses of wine or three single measure spirit and mixer drinks.

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Currently, the breathalysers are only mandatory for busses and minivans in Norway.

The Norwegian Truck Owners Association (Norges Lastebileier-Forbund) has backed the idea but says that it wants to see the law implemented across Europe first.

“Since the Norwegian transport industry is competing with fierce international competition, any requirement for breathalysers must apply to all participants in the European market. There is no point in making it mandatory just in Norway. This would entail costs and measures that will make it harder for Norwegian firms to compete. Any requirement must therefore be Europe-wide,” Geir A. Mo, CEO of the Norwegian Truck Owners Association, told Dagavisen.


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