Daily Management Review

Expert Body Says Driving In A Driverless Car In An Inebriated Condition Or On Drugs Should Be Legalized


Expert Body Says Driving In A Driverless Car In An Inebriated Condition Or On Drugs Should Be Legalized
In what is a very innovative and startling suggestion, a regulatory body in Australia has suggested that without falling foul of the law, people under the influence of drugs and alcohol should be able to use driverless cars.
The current laws could reduce the uptake of automated vehicles, said the National Transport Commission (NTC), an independent advisory body. Any law that requires occupants of self-driving cars to comply with drink-driving laws could be one of those potential barriers.
"This would create a barrier to using a vehicle to safely drive home after drinking. 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 drink-driving," the NTC said in a discussion paper released earlier this week.
"Legislative amendments could be made to exempt people who set a vehicle with high or
full automation in motion from the drink- and drug-driving provisions."
The risks that are associated with a person under the influence of drink or drugs choosing to take over the car are however acknowledged by the NTC. Drink and drug driving offences would apply in such a scenario or if such an event occurred, the body suggests. The NTC concludes that a drunk person in a driverless car is similar to them being in a taxi should be the ultimate conclusion.
"The application of an exemption is clear-cut for dedicated automated vehicles, which are not designed for a human driver. The occupants will always be passengers. The situation is analogous to a person instructing a taxi driver where to go," the paper said.
Drink-driving laws differ between jurisdictions and in many countries drugs are illegal.
Over the past two years, legislation to facilitate driverless cars are being pushed for by the Australian political parties, various wings of the government and several non-governmental agencies. And after laws were passed there to allow tests, the first public self-driving car trials took place in South Australia in 2015.
Guidelines on driverless car tests across the entire country have also been recently released by the NTC.
Automated vehicles could actually be a boon for the alcohol industry, analysts have forecast.
"Shared and autonomous vehicles could expand the total addressable market of alcoholic beverages while reducing the incidence of traffic fatalities and accidents," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a report last month.
Implications that driverless cars will have on the law and the insurance industry are being looked at by governments across the world who are thinking about introduction of driverless vehicles.


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