President and founder, John Zimmer, of rideshare company, Lyft, has stated that Uber’s fatal March 18 collision involving a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, could or should have been prevented. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was the first person to be killed after being struck by a driverless car, an Uber while walking her bicycle across a four-lane street. The incident caused Uber to suspend all of its driverless vehicle operations. Zimmer said this incident should also serve as a warning to all companies in the driverless car race on putting out new tech before it’s ready.
Fatal Arizona Uber Crash
Rafaela Vasquez was the driver who was operating the Volvo SUV that struck and killed Herzberg. The vehicle, however, was in Uber’s autonomous mode. Herzberg’s death has led to questions about more oversight is required for the self-driving industry and has prompted Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, to stop Uber testing statewide. Arizona had earlier prided itself on allowing testing of driverless vehicles without stifling regulations, hoping that it would allow the state to be a leader in innovation.
As it stands, driverless cars don’t have to go through the state or federal testing and no performance standards have been set. Zimmer has said while driverless vehicles are expected to reduce car accidents, he is now concerned about what kind of setback the autonomous vehicle industry will face after the fatal Uber crash. Uber has also suspended self-driving operations in California and has decided not to apply for a California permit with the understanding that their vehicles won’t operate in the state in the immediate future.
When Technology is Simply Not Ready
The type of tragedy that occurred in Arizona is precisely what Bisnar Chase’s senior partner Brian Chase has been worried about. Chase has raised these concerns time and again especially with driverless cars because automakers and tech companies appear to be in a rush to test these vehicles on public roadways and put them on the market. Governmental officials have little knowledge of how this groundbreaking technology works. So, there is little in terms of regulation to stop these corporations from acting recklessly and paying no attention to public safety.
As California car accident lawyers, we too are eager to see the number of crashes reduced. It is wonderful if autonomous driving technology can make our roads safer. However, members of the public are not guinea pigs. Testing for these new products simply cannot come at the expense of our lives and limbs.