For decades, autonomous vehicles or “self-driving” cars were something we believed could exist only on TV or in the movies. Fast-forward to 2016 where Business Insider magazine runs a headline stating that 19 companies are working to put the first self-driving cars on the road as early as 2021. Some of the companies leading the way include Google, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, Uber, Ford, Nissan, and others. While the race is on, the artificial intelligence needed to make these vehicles work safely isn’t quite there yet.
Autonomous Vehicles Do Not Absolve Driver of Responsibility for DUI
Experts have pointed out some situations where the artificial intelligence inside an autonomous vehicle may not be able to handle the given situation in the same way a human driver could. For example, how would a self-driving car be able to drive defensively and handle another vehicle with a human driver driving erratically? If the autonomous vehicle is using a camera to follow road markings, such as a center line, how will it operate when those markings are not visible, such as during a snow storm?
USA Infrastructure Is Unprepared for Autonomous Vehicles
In addition to concerns about the technology, there is also the concern about cities and towns being unprepared for these vehicles to hit the road. As mentioned, many of these vehicles follow road markings, many of which need to be added to the roads in many places across the country. Currently, the U.S. infrastructure, specifically the civic and transportation divisions, already has its hands full with its current duties, and adding street markings may be too much to handle.
Self Driving Vehicles Would Cut Down DUI Charges
Understandably, autonomous vehicles are in the works, but a completely safe and accurate vehicle is a long way away. However, the thought of a self-driving car does pose the question of how these vehicles will affect drivers being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) are pushing for these vehicles to be available, citing that autonomous vehicles would greatly help to reduce the number of DUIs and DUI deaths across the country.
While this is good in theory, lawmakers are not running to the books to absolve drivers of their responsibility when it comes to drinking and driving incidents. Conversely, a legislator in the state of New Jersey is introducing a bill that would require all autonomous vehicles to be equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to prevent the vehicle from starting unless the driver provides a sample for the device to prove he or she is sober.