Newly released research on road safety finds that the introduction of self-driving vehicles on our streets has a twofold effect. The study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review says that driverless vehicles will reduce drunk driving rates, but will also lead to an increased level of binge drinking.

As you undoubtedly know, Waymo, a Google company, has conducted extensive tests of autonomous vehicles on Valley of the Sun streets.

The researchers say the mixed health outcomes pose a challenge to policymakers in Arizona and around the nation and world as they try to make our society safer and healthier. The lead author of the study conducted at Curtin University said that when vehicles are driverless, it’s logical to expect that DUI problems will be substantially reduced.

“However, this benefit may be accompanied by an unintended negative consequence in the form of greater overall alcohol consumption due to increased availability of affordable and convenient transport,” he said.

Researchers interviewed 1,334 adults about their likely use of an autonomous vehicle after alcohol consumption More than a third said they would be likely to consume more if their plans included a self-driving vehicle.

Other factors also played roles in the decisions to consume more alcohol when using an autonomous vehicle, including:

  • Age
  • More frequent alcohol consumption
  • Positive attitudes toward driverless vehicles
  • A preference for using ride-share services featuring autonomous vehicles

A study co-author said, “Once autonomous vehicles become readily available they could be used as a means of facilitating out-of-home alcohol consumption and more frequent bouts of heavy drinking.”

Those in the Phoenix metro area facing DUI charges should contact the Rosenstein Law Group to schedule a consultation by video or phone.