Nissan said on Wednesday it was 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.

Ikue Matsuura, spokeswoman of Nissan Motor Corporation, said that Nissan was 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.

"No specifics have been decided yet but we are considering developing models that would prevent car accidents, including drunk driving," she said.

Tough penalties

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.

"No specifics have been decided yet but we are considering developing models that would prevent car accidents, including drunk driving"

Ikue Matsuura,
spokeswoman of Nissan Motor Corporation

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 on Wednesday.

Fukuoka Mayor Hirotaro Yamazaki has said the city is considering heavier punishments for its employees if they drive after drinking, even if they are not arrested.

The government of Kanagawa prefecture, bordering Tokyo, has already decided to dismiss employees who drink and drive or who ride in cars knowing the driver is drunk.

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.