Uber has become one of the most popular companies in the San Francisco area. Most people in and around the San Francisco area have used Uber, but they may not realize that the rideshare company is now using self-driving vehicles San Francisco streets once again after a two-year hiatus. At Allegiance Law, our San Francisco car accident attorneys want to discuss what this means for our city and what you can do if you are in an accident involving a self-driving vehicle.
Two years ago, Uber took self-driving cars off the streets of San Francisco after the first known pedestrian death caused by an autonomous vehicle in Arizona. Uber has said that the return of self-driving cars to San Francisco will be limited and done with caution. However, a statement from an Uber spokesperson indicates that the company plans to ramp up their self-driving efforts in the area:
“Our testing area will be limited in scope to start,” said the spokesperson for Uber. “But we look forward to scaling up our efforts in the months ahead and learning from the difficult but informative road conditions that the Bay Area has to offer.”
According to Uber, the self-driving restart will begin with two Volvo XC90 vehicles, and these vehicles will have two safety drivers in the front seats. These vehicles will operate only in daylight hours and will not carry passengers.
Uber has quietly reinitiated its self-driving program after it fell under the scrutiny of police, lawmakers, and federal investigators after the Arizona accident. In that incident, the federal government blamed the vehicle operator for failing to monitor the roadway and they said that Uber had an “inadequate safety culture.”
That means that drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are now at the risk of a company within an adequate safety culture. What steps have they taken over the last two years to fix their problems, and why would Uber think that the crowded streets of San Francisco offer a better practice area than other places?
Uber says that they have increased the safety of their self-driving vehicles. The company says that its drivers are required to have extensive training and will work fewer hours than they previously did. All current self-driving cars will have two operators on board (so much for self-driving?). The company also says it has added vehicle and software improvements, including an improved ability to track pedestrians.
As San Francisco works towards the Vision Zero goal of no traffic deaths in the city, we cannot help but wonder if this will be a setback for roadway safety. Only time will tell.
If you or somebody you care about has been involved in an accident involving a self-driving vehicle, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Allegiance Law, our qualified and experienced team will thoroughly investigate what happened in order to secure any compensation you are entitled to. This could include: