A woman was killed by a self-driving car being tested by Uber in Tempe, AZ at approximately 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 18. This is believed to be the first pedestrian death connected to automated vehicles.
Uber suspended their vehicle testing in Tempe, as well as in Toronto, San Francisco, CA, and Pittsburgh, PA in response to the crash. The ridesharing company is not the only company testing these new types of vehicles across the continent, but its fellow automakers and tech companies conducting the same types of tests have yet to comment on whether they will pull back the presence of their vehicles on public roads.
According to officials, the vehicle struck the victim, who was walking down the street with her bicycle, at approximately 40 mph. The vehicle did not appear to have slowed down before the collision, and the Uber safety driver in the vehicle was not impaired. In addition, the roads were dry and the weather was clear.
Tempe, AZ was considered an ideal location to test autonomous vehicles, not only because of its wide roads and dry weather, but also because Arizona had been declared a regulation-free zone by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in an attempt to attract companies like Uber to come to their state to test new vehicles. The initial executive order required that self-driving vehicles have a safety driver behind the wheel who could take over in an emergency, but updated it earlier this month and removed that stipulation.
This is not the first issue involving Uber’s self-driving vehicles in Tempe, AZ. Back in March of 2017, one of the vehicles was involved in a crash with another vehicle. While the other vehicle was determined to be at fault, Uber still temporarily shut down its autonomous vehicle tests in response to the accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 37,461 people were killed in traffic-related incidents in 2016, and while many companies believe that autonomous vehicles can have a significant impact in cutting that number down, there are clearly issues that need to be worked out first.
"We’ve imagined an event like this as a huge inflection point for the technology and the companies advocating for it,” Michael Bennett, an associate research professor at Arizona State University who has been looking into how people respond to driverless cars and artificial intelligence, sad in an interview with the New York Times. “They’re going to have to do a lot to prove that the technology is safe."
The introduction of self-driving vehicles, while potentially exciting, comes with a new slate of issues that could threaten the lives of pedestrians and fellow motorists. The law surrounding autonomous vehicles is constantly evolving, and you need to have a knowledgeable and adaptable attorney on your side to take full advantage of the legal opportunities. With more than 100 years of collective experience, our Miami car accident lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. can provide you with the representation you require and help you secure the compensation you deserve. Call us at (888) 650-0918 to speak with one of our lawyers over the phone today, or request a free initial consultation through our online form.