Back to top

Driverless While Intoxicated

12/14/2018

Driving a Tesla with autopilot for less than a week has me wondering what impact this technology might have on driving while intoxicated. The car will drive itself to the extent of staying within the lines. This feature alone might save lives by preventing head-on collisions. However, it might also prevent law enforcement from realizing that the driver is intoxicated.

Automatic braking to avoid a collision could also save lives.

Will intoxicated drivers rely on this technology rather than hiring a car service or sober friend? How intoxicated can a driver be and still use the car safely?

All this new technology has a steep learning curve. Intoxication beyond a certain level might prevent the driver from selecting the best safety features. Could a future software update allow the driver to select a default set of features prior to a predictable episode of intoxication or even require them to pass a computerized test in order to operate the vehicle at all? What if intoxication progresses after beginning to "drive?"

So far I have seen no evidence of autopilot technology that addresses the possibility of impairment from any cause. Maybe it's time for a tweet to Elon Musk.