There is a common belief that the rise of self-driving vehicles will make roads safer from drunk drivers, not worse. On the surface, this seems logical. If a car can drive itself, it stands to reason that an intoxicated person controlling the vehicle would be less common.

Convincing points of view exist, however, that contradict this theory and state that autonomous vehicles may increase instances of drunk driving and lead to more accidents, at least in the beginning.

The limits of current autonomous vehicles

According to an article on Forbes, self-driving automobiles enter the market in different stages. A truly self-driving vehicle is a Level 4 or Level 5 vehicle. We currently have Level 2 technology on the roads with Level 3 seeing an introduction right now. According to the article, Level 3 vehicles are likely to not only allow you to drive while intoxicated but may also increase the risk for it happening. This occurs because of a misconception that Level 3 vehicles truly drive themselves, which is not the case.

The misjudgment of a vehicle’s capabilities

The problem is that Level 3 cars certainly seem as though they drive themselves, which tends to lull you into a false sense of security. Level 3 vehicles still need a coherent driver behind the wheel to take over if necessary. It is not unreasonable to suggest that consumers may misunderstand the capabilities of their Level 3 vehicle and view it as a designated driver as opposed to a machine that still requires human assistance. While autonomous cars may eventually decrease accidents caused by drunk driving, we simply are not there yet.