Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian
At 10 P.M. on March 18, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona, a self-driving Uber vehicle hit pedestrian Elaine Herzberg. According to police, the vehicle struck Elaine at 40 miles per hour while she was walking her bike outside the crosswalk. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where she later died from her injuries.
When the accident occurred, the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode and had a human safety driver in the front seat. According to police, there were no indications that the vehicle made any effort to slow or stop before the accident.
Autonomous cars are supposed to serve as safer driving options than humans, as there are no distractions and the cars are required to follow traffic regulations. However, the vehicles cannot account for human error or unpredictability, and therefore cannot react appropriately to these obstacles.
Many companies, including Tesla, have introduced self-driving modes that allow human drivers to take over if something goes wrong. However, a number of states currently allow regulation-free testing of human-free autonomous vehicles, including:
Although there is a history of accidents involving self-driving cars, this is the first recorded fatality. Additionally, many of these accidents were caused by human error, rather than by a malfunction of the vehicle itself. For example, in 2017, a human driver’s failure to yield caused another driver to hit an autonomous Uber vehicle in Arizona. The Uber vehicle was turned on its side, and police determined the self-driving car was not at fault.
However, Uber is not taking any chances. Since the accident, Uber has halted testing its self-driving vehicles in Tempe, Toronto, Pittsburg, and San Francisco. Uber Spokeswoman Sarah Abboud issued the following statement: “We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued an investigation regarding the accident.
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