Four Santa Fe-area high school students teamed up with three SFI scientists to study data about the effectiveness of ignition interlock devices in curbing drunken driving accidents in New Mexico, with illustrative results.

SFI Omidyar Fellows James O'Dwyer, Charles Perreault, and Paul Hooper have met weekly with a group of four high school students participating in The MASTERS Program, a state-chartered, dual-credit school located on the campus of the Santa Fe Community College.

The students wanted to explore a topic that would do some good in their community. They settled on a statistical analysis of the effectiveness of New Mexico's ignition interlock law, which mandates that drivers install interlock devices after the first drunken driving offense. An interlock prevents a car from starting until the driver blows into a device that detects alcohol. The law has been in place in New Mexico since 2005.

The students -- seniors Arlo Barnes, Krishan Bhakta, and Noah Kwicklis and junior Raj Singh -- compared data from New Mexico with nine other states, statistically isolating the effects of interlock devices from other variables. They find that New Mexico's law has resulted in 700 fewer alcohol-related crashes and 27 fewer fatal car crashes since 2005.

Read the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (May 10, 2013)