Self-Driving Cars Could Lead to More Drinking, Morgan Stanley Says

It's not like people will have to worry about DUIs.

Bernd W├╝stneck/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Self-driving cars are expected to change the way we live in all sorts of ways. They'll reduce crashes, give people more free time, and possibly eliminate the need for car ownership, advocates say. They could also lead to an increase in alcohol consumption, according to Morgan Stanley. 

Analysts recently looked at the potential impact of self-driving cars on the alcohol industry, reports Business Insider. They found good news for anyone who owns stock in Anheuser-Busch. The time people now spend driving could instead be spent drinking, Morgan Stanley reasons. Not having to worry about being too drunk to drive could also lead to more drinking before people get in cars as well.

Morgan Stanley notes that this trend is already asserting itself through ride-sharing services like Uber. People are now more likely to drink more, and assume that someone else will drive them home, analysts said. It's a relatively small leap from that to being comfortable with the idea of being whisked away by a self-driving car after a night of partying, analysts believe.

All of that extra drinking could increase the value of the alcohol industry by $56 billion, and drive a 0.8-percent increase in its overall 10-year compound annual growth rate, according to the Morgan Stanley report.

But implementing that boozy vision of the future could prove tricky. Studies have shown that many people are still wary about getting into self-driving cars. The technology will also have to get to the point where an inebriated person can ride in a car safely. Since a drunk passenger won't be able to take over the controls, self-driving driving cars will have to achieve top Level 5 status on the SAE's autonomy scale. That means cars that don't make any allowance for human drivers, even doing away with steering wheels and pedals. While some companies like Ford are ostensibly aiming for Level 5, others will likely launch Level 4 cars, which present a much less daunting technical challenge...while perhaps being less exciting for America's drunks.