Proposed legislation co-sponsored by Senator Fuschillo and supported by D.A. Rice and Assemblyman McDonough, would require ignition interlocks to be used on school buses as a way to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel of a school bus. If this legislation is ultimately approved New York would become the first state to require this type of safety device on school buses.

In case you don’t know, ignition interlock devices are self-administered breath-testing units linked to a vehicle’s ignition system, which prevent it from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. These devices are currently used in a number of states for people convicted of a drunk driving offense. In those cases these devices are paid for by the offender, along with a monthly service fee. In every state where these devices have been used the incidence of repeat drunk driving offenses has declined, although there is disagreement on whether or not the devices themselves are the primary cause of this.

Recently in New York a school bus driver, later determined to have been drunk behind the wheel, crashed his bus into a house, with five school children on board. It was this incident which spurred some parents to seek legislators to take further steps to keep their school children safe. On the surface this move might seem draconian; a knee-jerk reaction to an isolated incident, but how many school children need to be injured before something is done? And what else could be done? How many background checks are enough and how many education programs and how much training is enough?

New York legislators are hardly unanimous in their support of this proposed legislation, but public support is growing. If New York eventually does go with this type of program it seems likely it will be replicated in other states, regardless of its effectiveness. When it comes to the safety of children, and the voting power of their parents, too much seems to be never quite enough.