Nissan -- Innovation To Combat Social Problem

With Japan stepping up action against drunk driving, Nissan Motor is trying to help the cause by its announcement on Sept. 13 that it is developing cars that will not start if the driver is intoxicated. Nissan said it is considering installing a straw-like tube on the driver's seat which the driver would have to blow into to start the car. The engine would not start if the machine shows the driver is intoxicated.

Nissan is also studying a device that requires drivers to enter personal identification numbers of many digits, which may be a difficult task if they are drunk, Nissan Motor Corp. spokeswoman Ikue Matsuura said.

The move comes amid a growing movement in Japan against drunk driving after an intoxicated driver killed three children in the southwestern city of Fukuoka. Following the incident, 21 local governments out of the nation's 47 prefectures and 15 major cities are considering tougher penalties on drunk driving, said a survey by the Sankei Shimbun newspaper published Sept. 13.

Many urban Japanese can avoid drunk driving as major cities have well-developed public transportation systems, on which intoxicated passengers are a common sight at night.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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