Last month, a self-driving Uber SUV hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It is thought to be the first pedestrian fatality involving a fully self-driving car. The incident is sparking concerns about the many potential dangers of self-driving cars. As these vehicles become more common, it is possible we could see more serious accidents in southern California.
Our personal injury attorneys at Neale & Fhima stand ready to help Orange County residents who are injured by autonomous vehicles.
What Happened in Arizona
A self-driving Uber Volvo SUI killed Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman as she walked her bike across the street in Tempe in mid-March 2018. Based upon information provided by the Tempe Police Department, the Uber vehicle was traveling at 40 mph in a 35 mph zone. There was no indication the vehicle slowed before fatally striking the woman.
The SUV was in autonomous mode when the crash occurred, but there was a driver behind the wheel as a safeguard.
Uber has stated that it ceased testing for self-driving vehicles throughout the U.S. and Canada while it is investigating the crash. The company has been doing autonomous vehicle tests in Tempe, Pittsburgh, Toronto and other cities.
Arizona is a popular state for self-driving car tests. The state has good weather, little snow and rain. Also, the state government has been friendly toward companies doing self-driving car tests, and this has attracted more such business to Arizona. Google is planning to start a self-driving car service in Phoenix this year, and GM and Intel also are conducting tests in the state.
Potential Dangers of Self-Driving Vehicles
Some argue that self-driving vehicles will be safer than regular drivers; computers, after all, do not get distracted by cell phones and do not fall asleep behind the wheel. However, there are potential dangers of these vehicles worth examining. First, self-driving vehicles must use existing roads. The infrastructure of the U.S. has not been built to support autonomous vehicles. This could lead to accidents. The reason is that every self-driving vehicle must have everything built into its software. It cannot rely on wires buried in the street, smart speed limit and turn lane signs, or special paint that would help the self-driven car find its way. This could pose serious risks because roads are unpredictable by nature and the vehicle may not respond appropriately.
Second, unexpected things can occur on the road at any time, such as a pedestrian coming out of nowhere and entering the street. The Tempe accident shows that the Uber vehicle was not designed to handle this type of sudden incident effectively. It remains to be seen whether future developments with autonomous vehicles will prevent these types of tragic accidents from occurring.
Regardless, if a person is injured by a driverless vehicle, it will still be possible to file a personal injury or product liability lawsuit so that the person can be compensated for their injuries.
Were You In a Car Accident? Talk to a Southern California Personal Injury Attorney Today
There are many car accidents every day in busy Orange County, California. Many drivers are distracted, speed, fail to yield and cause serious accidents. If you suffered serious injuries because of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, rehabilitation and pain and suffering. For a complimentary consultation about your car accident, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Neale & Fhima today.