The age of self-driving vehicles is approaching extremely fast. Tens of years of research into cutting-edge sensors, mapping, and control techniques have borne fruit and autonomous vehicles are hitting the roads. However, partial or complete autonomy raises the concern of who is at fault for a self-driving car accident.
For human-driven cars, things are clear-cut: the driver is liable because they have the control. But, when it comes to driverless cars, it’s not so simple. Uber introduced its self-driving vehicles in 2016, and since then one fatal Uber self-driving car accident has occurred.
Since the law concerning autonomous vehicles isn’t clear-cut, it’s best to consult Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys at El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers after a self-driving car accident.
Uber Self-Driving Car Accident Statistics
Self-driving vehicles started to hit public roads in 2013. And, the primary aim of manufacturers has been to produce an autonomous vehicle system that’s safer than conventional cars. Whether that’s possible without sacrificing the lives of more people is a controversial matter. That’s in light of the accidents and deaths resulting from glitches in the autonomous car system.
In 2018, Elaine Herzberg, aged 49, was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving test car. The poor woman was attempting to cross a poorly lit roadway with a bicycle in Tempe, Arizona in March 2018.
After thorough investigations, the National Transportation Safety Board discovered the vehicle failed to identify Herzberg as a pedestrian. NTSB’s discoveries raised many safety concerns but didn’t establish the probable cause of the Uber self-driving car accident.
Uber’s self-driving car was traveling at the speed limit, while the lady was pushing her bicycle across a street that wasn’t a crosswalk. Moreover, her clothes were dark-colored. Police officers came to the crash scene and termed it an unavoidable accident.
However, it became clear that the autonomous vehicle had a human backup driver. Additionally, further testing showed that the car didn’t slow down or swerve before the accident. And the safety driver was receiving warnings to remove the vehicle from auto-drive mode shortly before the incident.
While autonomous vehicle accidents had occurred in previous times, the 2018 accident was the first to result in a fatality. After the tragic collision, Uber stopped the testing of its self-driving vehicles in all states.
Determination of Liability
Negligence laws mandate drivers to practice due care and not hit pedestrians even if they aren’t crossing the road in a crosswalk. In a typical car accident that causes injuries, whether the driver will be liable for negligence relies upon the circumstances.
According to the 2018 Uber self-driving car accident initial police report, the circumstances were:
- The car was using the far right lane of the Tempe highway
- The vehicle was traveling at the designated speed limit
- The pedestrian wasn’t on a crosswalk while she was crossing the road
- The pedestrian was in dark clothes
Therefore, it can be concluded that no human driver would have been able to act in time to avoid the collision. It can also be concluded that a human motorist might have slowed down or swerved to prevent or minimize the crash. Nevertheless, several days after the collision and before the filing of any lawsuit, Uber settled with the pedestrian’s family for an undisclosed amount.
Contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers
If you’re involved in a human-driven or self-driving car accident, contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers for a free consultation. Our competent Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys will be glad to listen and give their input.