The first incident of death involving self-driving vehicle technology has occurred in Tempe, Arizona. Ms. Herzberg was walking her bicycle across a four-lane road out of the cross-walking area. Video evidence from a dashcam inside the car showed the self-driving SUV traveling at night under the visually difficult circumstance. Suddenly the headlights flashed onto Herzberg who was directly in front of the SUV. Other footage showed that moments before impact, the Uber driver was barely looking at the road and mostly looking down at his phone.
Results of the Incident
Following the automobile accident, Uber Technology Inc. and Herzberg’s parents came to an agreement on a settlement claim, avoiding the need for court and a lawsuit. Both the parents and Uber officials refused to comment following the news.
The concerns arising from the accident could stall the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, which are in production to improve traffic, reduce accidents and deaths, and allow for better and smoother road conditions overall.
Uber has put its testing of these technologies on hold after the death of Ms. Herzberg. Toyota Motor Corp and chipmaker Nvidia Corp have also suspended self-driving car testing on public roads, awaiting information and analysis of the accident. It is impertinent that they know what caused this incident before continuing.
Cheap taxi style companies like Uber are not usually liable for any car accidents that occur. They make sure to hire drivers as independent contractors instead of employees which protects the company and usually makes the one behind the wheel at fault. That means that any injuries or damages are paid by the driver’s insurance instead. Uber does, however, have a $1 million insurance policy in place to protect its passengers. In case the driver’s insurance cannot fully cover the costs incurred from personal injuries, this insurance will help cover the medical expenses of its customers.
With this news, both regular and Uber drivers, along with the general public, are concerned about how reliable and safe self-driving technology currently is. What everyone wants to know is if these cars are really ready for the road? Of course, accidents occur regardless of the type of vehicle and this was the first death incident, but all harm-causing incidents must be concerned when developing any new vehicle technology.
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