Behavioural Economics: Compulsory Breathalysers

Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death and serious injury for victims of car crashes in France and the government has decided to introduce a strong behavioural nudge by making it compulsory for every car to have a portable breathalyser kit in their vehicles or risk a fine. This applies to every vehicle including those driven by tourists. Vehicle owners will have until November 2012 to get used to it before the fines are imposed.

Having a breathalyser in the glove box or on the front passenger seat might well be an effective reminder for people before they turn on the ignition. Reminders of our mortality and/or our morality can often prime us to make safer, better choices. I applaud the French government for introducing this new law. All motorists must also have with them a high-visibility safety vest and a warning triangle.

See also: BBC news video: France orders breathalyser for motorists

The drink-driving limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - 30mg less than the UK limit. The French government has approved two breathalyser kits –  a cheap blow-in-the-bag tester that costs £3 and digital versions that cost more than £100 - a boom for manufacturers of these products!



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