Autonomous cars may prompt the changing of Australian drink-driving laws

An Australian report suggests that drink-driving laws should not apply to people if they use self-driving cars, when the technology comes of age.

With autonomous cars already being tested in Australia, the The National Transport Commission (NTC) has been looking at what legislative changes will be necessary when self-driving cars become common. In fact, the NCT believes that current laws could potentially be a "barrier" to the use of these cars, which are expected in commercial rollouts by 2020.

The NTC recently published a report which looks into many different aspects of the laws that would need changing, such as whether the responsibility lies with the person in the car or the autonomous driving system.

It also suggested that drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not be subject to drunk driving laws if using an autonomous car, stating that getting into a self-driving car drunk is similar to getting into a taxi.

The report states: "Enabling people to use an automated vehicle to drive them home despite having consumed alcohol has the potential to improve road-safety outcomes by reducing the incidence of drink-driving."

The report does, however, note that this exemption should not apply to drivers under the influence who are in vehicles that can switch to manual driving.

While the technology may still be a while away from full autonomous cars, the NTC thinks they "will have overall safety benefits for the road network by reducing the risk of human error".