As automakers and technology companies work to develop self-driving vehicles, the adult-beverage industry is keeping a close eye on their progress.
Dan Clausner, executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, said he has been following the development of self-driving vehicles for several years. He said autonomous vehicles would help to eliminate not just drunken driving, but also those impaired by drugs or distracted by technology.
“So, this self-driving vehicle would, again, reduce all impaired or distracted-driving incidents,” Clausner said
“The entire group may be able to enjoy the experience rather than having a designated driver that is abstaining from consumption for the entire event,” Clausner said.
By extension, Clausner said, more people who previously might have opted to stay home instead of going out might feel comfortable going out in settings in which they have no worries about getting home safely.
“They would be able to feel more comfortable in going out and enjoying themselves in those settings,” Clausner said.
Clausner said there were negatives associated with self-driving vehicles, including the report of a fatality Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona, in which a pedestrian was struck and killed by a self-driving vehicle. The incident is believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology, The New York Times reported. Clausner said if the technology can be made safe, his organization would support self-driving vehicles.