In recent years, self-driving vehicle technology has become increasingly commonplace, not just in Arizona, but across the United States and across the globe. In fact, the popular ride-sharing service known as Uber recently began using autonomous vehicles in various cities after a brief testing phase. Arizona, specifically, has been a “hot spot” for self-driving vehicle testing, likely due to the state’s reputation for a dry, stable climate.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the first self-driving-vehicle fatality to occur in Arizona. It sparked nationwide concerns about self-driving car accidents.
Fatal Self-Driving Uber Accident
On Sunday, March 18, a 49-year-old bicyclist was killed in Tempe, Arizona, after she was struck by a self-driving Uber Volvo XC90 SUV. It is believed that the vehicle was traveling about 40 miles per hour in what was supposed to be a 35 mph speed zone at the time of the accident.
Despite initial reports that the SUV was being driven by a 44-year-old behind the wheel at the time of the accident. Yet, it has since been confirmed that the vehicle was actually in “autonomous mode” at the time of the accident. This means that the car was technically traveling and making decisions on its own, despite the fact that there was a “test” driver behind the wheel.
At this time, the Tempe Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing their investigation into the crash to determine what prevented the self-driving vehicle from detecting the cyclist in the crosswalk and braking accordingly. Currently, there are no signs that the vehicle ever made an attempt to stop.
What Does This Mean for Self-Driving Vehicle Technology?
While this may have been the first fatality related to self-driving vehicles in Arizona, it is not the first autonomous vehicle fatality by a long shot. This was also not the first instance of an accident resulting from self-driving-vehicle error. In fact, just a year ago, a self-driving SUV was involved in an accident in Tempe. It was later determined that the self-driving vehicle actually had the legal right of way when the accident took place. That doesn’t negate the importance of a self-driving vehicle’s capability to avoid accidents. Fortunately in this case, nobody was seriously injured.
Since the accident on March 18, Uber has announced that they will cease their testing of autonomous vehicles. The company had been using self-driving vehicles not only in Arizona, but in Pennsylvania and Canada as well.
Perhaps above all else, these incidents demonstrate the need for further testing and refinement of self-driving vehicle technology. This technology is still very new in the grand scheme of things, and there seems to be a rush to incorporate it into our daily lives. We may need better regulation and more refinement of this technology to avoid future accidents like the one that occurred in Tempe.
Have You Been Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Unfortunately, as long as there are vehicles on the road (autonomous or not), there will be motor vehicle accidents. Hopefully, you are never in a situation where you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, but it’s important to understand your legal rights if you are.
At The Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC, we offer representation for clients who have been injured in car accidents and pedestrian accidents. Ultimately, our goal is to get you the recovery you may deserve for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with us today.