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What impact will self-driving cars have on drunk driving?

“It’s actually safer to be controlled by a self-driving system during the long stretches of highway. That’s where it becomes the most mundane, that’s where you get the most fatigue, which plays into accidents.”

– Eric Berdinis, Otto Product Lead

Too many people are injured or killed in alcohol-related car accidents every day. While there are many alternatives to drunk driving, people still choose to do so. Not everyone can afford to take an Uber home, so they result to driving while drunk. A DUI charge is much more expensive than the cost of an Uber or taxi.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts your life and others at risk. As self-driving cars will be taking over the roads in our near future, could they be what we need to end drunk driving once and for all?

What are people saying around the world?

Australia has acknowledged the need to reconsider certain laws when we are no longer controlling our vehicles. Australia’s National Transport Commission (NTC) took a big step toward embracing self-driving technology, and they think that laws against drunk driving should no longer apply.

The NTC have stated that “enabling people to use an automated vehicle to drive them home despite having consumed alcohol has the potential to improve road safety outcomes by reducing the incidence of drunk-driving.” They do, however, recognize the risk of a drunk individual choosing to take over control of the car. The advisory body suggests that drink and drug offenses would apply.

The impact on drunk-driving

It is hard to say if self-driving cars will impact drunk driving. Grey areas are still present as highway safety is concerned with those under the influence taking control of the self-driving vehicle, and how open container laws may change. Long term, as the individual in the driver’s seat becomes a “passenger,” you probably won’t be able to drink. The type of self-driving cars we end up with will determine whether the person behind the wheel is, in fact, a passenger.

Researchers have many factors to take into consideration when determining if self-driving cars will reduce drunk driving. The majority believe that allowing drinking while behind the wheel of an automated vehicle is a bad idea. As technology advances, the debate continues.

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