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Car share companies should require breathalyzer tests: lawyer

Last Updated Dec 30, 2019 at 12:14 pm PDT

(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Vancouver lawyer says car share companies should install breathalyzer tests in vehicles

Test would require drivers to be below legal limit to turn the vehicle on

Kyla Lee says putting in the technology would be cost effective for company and public

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Car share companies should install ignition interlock devices, sort of like a breathalyzer, to ensure the person getting behind the wheel is safe to drive, according to one local lawyer following a deadly crash in Vancouver over the weekend involving a car2go driver.

Kyla Lee with Acumen Law Corporation says not only would the cost to put the devices in vehicles would be covered because the service is so well used, it should not outweigh the cost of someone’s life.

“It would be very easy for them to put those in all of the vehicles to require somebody to blow to show they’re sober,” she said. “It would be a significant step that would protect the public, particularly because we often see people who’ve been consuming alcohol and have headed downtown or headed somewhere with the intention not to drive, then decide to drive and get into one of these [car sharing] vehicles because they feel like they’re fine. This would be a minimal expense compared to the cost, not only to the company, but also to the public as a whole when something goes wrong in one of these cases.”

The way the system works is a driver gets in the car, blows into a device and if they blow over the legal threshold, the car won’t start.

“It also requires you to blow while you’re driving to ensure your blood alcohol level is still below the limit so you’re not elevating as you’re driving or drinking while you’re driving,” Lee said.

She feels car share companies need to take on more of the onus to help make sure the roads are safe.

“Once the driver gets behind the wheel, they do assume responsibility for what they do when they’re in the vehicle and the car sharing companies don’t owe any responsibility to the public. But I think that’s an untenable position for them to take,” she said. “If you’re making a vehicle available to just anybody who has a membership, who has gone through a very minimum background check, to be able to get into it and drive, you have a responsibility as an owner of a vehicle to make sure the person who’s driving the vehicle is exercising reasonable judgement and care.”

Lee says taking ownership of what happens applies to people, so it should to companies.

“If you’re anybody else and you give the keys to your car to somebody that you know has been drinking, you can have some liability if they are involved in an accident and if they injure somebody, for not making the responsible decision” she said. “I don’t think car sharing companies should avoid that type of liability by simply saying, ‘Well, we’re a corporation and we can’t police this.’ The technology exists to allow them to ensure the drivers behind the wheel are sober and they’re not making use of available technology that would protect the public.”

Car sharing companies currently require a valid driver’s license and driver’s abstract.

“We need to crackdown on companies that are providing these services and say, ‘Look, you have to do more then just make somebody sign a contract saying that they’re going to drive the vehicle only when they’re sober,’ to ensure they’re actually following through on that. Again, it’s such a minor thing they would have to do, not a huge expense to put these devices in the vehicle but something that would have a huge public benefit and increase public safety in a way that, I think, is undeniable.”

She feels with the ongoing push and promise for ridehailing and things like electric scooters to come to major regions, steps should be take down to set a precedent.

“If we’re going to have more technology that poses risks to the public when people are impaired while using it, we need to ensure we’re cracking down now on what’s available because it’s a lot harder to walk that back when there are far more options out there for people and then we’re going, ‘Well, this is causing a crisis and we have no regulations in place.'”

On Saturday, a Yellow Cab driver was killed and his two passengers were hurt when their vehicle was t-boned by a car2go vehicle around 3:30 a.m. near 1st Avenue and Renfrew Street.

Investigators say the man in his 20 behind the wheel of the car2go appears to have ran a red light before colliding with the cab, sending the taxi into the Royal Bank on the southeast corner of the intersection. Officers believe speed and alcohol were definite factors and the driver is thought to have evaded police during a roadblock before the crash.

The 28-year-old cab driver was killed and leaves behind a fiancée. He had also recently purchased a new home and was planning to move in sometime in the New Year. The driver of the car2go remains in the hospital in serious condition but charges have not been recommended.

Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call the unit at 604.717.3012.

Car2go is shutting down serivce in North America as of Feb. 29 after saying it was no longer financial viable for it to continue.