Driving Under the Influence Should Be Legal If in Driverless Car, Says NTC

If the National Transport Commission has its way, people under the influence of alcohol and drugs will be exempt from the law if they are using a driverless car. The independent advisory body in Australia said that the current laws could lessen the uptake of automated vehicles. Any law that requires passengers of self-driving cars to follow the law is one of the 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 NTC likens drunk person in a driverless vehicle to a passenger in a taxi.

“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 regulatory body also released guidelines on driverless car tests all over the country.

For the past two years, Australia has been promoting legislation that will facilitate driverless cars. The first public self-driving car trials took place in South Australia in 2015. Laws were passed to allow the trials to take place.

“Shared and autonomous vehicles could expand the total addressable market of alcoholic beverages while reducing the incidence of traffic fatalities and accidents,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas.

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