DMV Permitting Fatally Flawed Autonomous Ubers?

The video of an autonomous Uber hitting and killing Elaine Herzberg as she tried to cross a Tempe, Ariz. street last week is jarring, to say the least. It also calls into question the dangerous flaws in Uber’s autonomous vehicle technology. As soon as one week from today, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) stands poised to begin permitting autonomous vehicles in self-driving on our streets without anyone at the wheel. That’s one less safeguard than was in place in last week’s fatal collision.

Read our Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier’s letter to the DMV below and sign on: Fatal flaws must be addressed before Uber’s autonomous vehicle technology is permitted on our streets.


March 26, 2018

Jean Shiomoto, Director
California Department of Motor Vehicles
2415 1st Ave, Mail Station F101
Sacramento, CA 95818-2606

Dear Director Shiomoto,

On behalf of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s over 10,000 members, I write to call upon you and your department to halt plans to issue any permits for autonomous vehicle (AV) testing in California until a full investigation can be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board into the fatal collision involving an Uber AV that took the life of Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona on March 18, 2018.

A full investigation would allow regulators to determine what role Uber’s AV technology played in failing to properly detect and avoid Herzberg as she attempted to cross a six-lane street that evening. Per the CA DMV’s press release of February 26, 2018, we understand you plan to begin issuing testing permits to companies like Uber as soon as April 2, 2018. There is no benefit to the public in rushing this process, especially in light of events that call into question the safety of this technology as developed and deployed by Uber in Arizona as well as enforcement of AV test driver qualifications and standards of behavior.

The CA DMV has jurisdiction over the entire state, but I want to stress that San Francisco is likely to see more permits issued for testing than any other county. Given the density of likely AV testing in our city, people who walk and bike in San Francisco would be put in the greatest danger if unsafe technology is rushed to fully autonomous testing without understanding any potentially fatal flaws. Given that potential danger, I ask you to give special consideration to this request. The long-term potential for AV technology to improve safety on our streets can only be realized if we carefully manage its testing and deployment.


Brian Wiedenmeier
Executive Director

cc: Senator Scott Wiener
Assemblymember David Chiu
Assemblymember Phil Ting


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