By this point in time, it is clear that self-driving cars are coming sooner rather than later. After all, newer and newer prototypes are being tested on a regular basis, thus generating data that can be used to produce further improvements in said vehicles. As such, while true self-driving cars won’t be hitting the consumer market in the near future, it seems safe to say that they will be coming sooner rather than later.
How Will Self-Driving Cars Combat the Problem of Drinking and Driving?
With that said, while semi-autonomous vehicles are expected to hit the consumer market well before fully-autonomous vehicles, interested parties are already thinking about the interesting features that can be packed into them. For instance, there are a lot of scientists who are thinking about how self-driving cars can be used to combat the issue of drinking and driving, though to be perfectly fair, their proposed solution isn’t actually connected with the basic systems that will make fully-autonomous vehicles possible.
In short, the idea is to come up with a system that can tell when the driver is inebriated so that they can be prevented from taking control of the car in said state. It is interesting to note that the individual components of said system are already in existence. For example, there are already ignition interlock devices that require drivers to blow into a mouth piece to check their blood alcohol level before they can start the car. Likewise, there are eye-tracking software that can be used to tell whether someone is capable of paying attention or not, thus providing one more way for such systems to tell when the driver isn’t capable of driving in a safe manner. After all, while drinking and driving is a serious contributor to car accidents, so are people who choose to operate cars on much too little sleep.
Summed up, the individual components needed to build a system capable of telling when the driver is either inebriated or otherwise can’t be trusted to operate a car so that they can be locked out are already in existence. As a result, what remains is for interested parties to use them to create such systems before integrating them into the semi-autonomous vehicles and then the fully-autonomous vehicles that are expected to hit the consumer market at some point in the future. Theoretically, this could provide a huge benefit for society as a whole assuming widespread adoption of semi-autonomous vehicles as well as fully-autonomous vehicles, seeing as how the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that around 28 people die because of drinking and driving in the United States on a daily basis.
Of course, such systems won’t be the only way that fully-autonomous vehicles will be able to reduce incidences of drinking and driving. Simply put, alcohol does impair people’s sense of judgment, but it doesn’t do so 100 percent all at once. As such, it seems safe to say that people will fully-autonomous vehicles who get drunk will retain sufficient sense to count on their vehicles to get them home safe and sound, particularly if those vehicles come with the right systems to prevent them from making any truly disastrous choices.
On the whole, self-driving cars are a very interesting issue. At this point in time, their widespread use seems inevitable, which in turn, means that their expected impact on society will be both extensive and widespread in nature. However, while self-driving cars are expected to bring people plenty of benefits, there are some studies that suggest that there will be some significant downsides as well.
Luckily, there is still plenty of time for interested parties to prepare for their arrival. Yes, there are a lot of interested parties pouring a lot of resources into the development of self-driving cars. However, there are still a lot of issues that will need to be overcome before self-driving cars can actually hit the consumer market. Due to this, there is still much time for the relevant institutions to conduct studies on their expected impact so that policy-makers can start implement plans and policies to minimize their potential downsides while still enabling their benefits to have full effect on society as a whole.