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Readers' ideas for stopping wrong-way drunk drivers

Part of what makes the horrific crash Sunday in Diamond Bar that killed six people -- which police suspect was caused by a drunk, 21-year-old woman speeding on the 60 Freeway in the wrong direction -- so tragic was how completely preventable it was.

The driver, who has a previous DUI conviction (as a teenager), didn't have to take the wheel of what becomes a speeding, multi-ton weapon under the control of someone who's been drinking. The lives of six people plodding along a freeway -- something Southern Californians do without consciously considering the risk -- didn't have to be snuffed out so suddenly and brutally.

How can we prevent a tragedy like this from happening again?

The obvious solution, of course, would be for every drinking person to summon some sober judgment and recognize that getting behind the wheel places themselves and everyone else at great danger. But alcohol drowns that kind of thinking; it insidiously makes you more likely to grab the keys with each increasingly impairing drink.

Feeling uncomfortable with leaving the decision on whether to drive up to the inebriated, readers have offered some suggestions of their own to prevent DUI deaths. Some said technology should play a larger role, and several recommended that we borrow a method used in parking lots.

Here are some of their letters.

Ken Johnson of Pinon Hills says we need to get tough on alcohol advertising:

"Alcohol is still our major drug problem; the Diamond Bar crash, allegedly caused by a drunk driver, is a reminder of the too many ways that booze can maim and kill us. Beer, wine and whiskey are alcoholic products constantly advertised, showing the young having fun with bottles in hand.

"Maybe we need a head-on collision with the liquor industry as we did with tobacco and get it out of our sight. There are many alive today who where saved by the absence of cigarette advertising. The media lost money in tobacco advertising revenue, but they survived. The same would be true of alcohol advertising."

Northridge resident Arthur A. Fleisher II finds a solution in parking lots:

"A simple suggestion to basically eliminate the chance of someone entering the freeways via an exit: Install on every off-ramp one of the tire-puncturing devices that are used in many parking lots to prevent entering through an exit.

"They could easily be manufactured with or retrofitted with a plate that would allow police, fire or ambulance personnel to inactivate them as needed for emergencies.

"This may be a little expensive, but the money pales in comparison to the cost of horrid, preventable human tragedies."

Kenneth L. Zimmerman of Huntington Beach calls for breathalyzers to be installed universally:

"The recent deadly 60 Freeway car crash in Diamond Bar brings to the forefront how to prevent drunk drivers from driving. The 21-year-old driver accused of causing the accident is strongly suspected by police of having been drunk. She was allegedly driving the wrong way on the freeway. 

"Our society can't rely on stopping such menaces by using designated drivers, by hoping that police catch them before they cause a horrific accident, or by waiting on law enforcement to crack down on them instead of being too lenient.

"The only way to effectively stop drunk drivers is to require breathalyzers to be installed in all vehicles, causing a car that would otherwise be driven by a drunk driver never to start in the first place."

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