Our hearts go out to the family and friends of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. The crash with an autonomous Uber in self-driving mode that took her life last night in Tempe, Ariz. was entirely preventable, and no one should have to experience the devastation they feel today.
Autonomous vehicle technology promises to dramatically reduce collisions and improve street safety in time. We’ve repeatedly warned Uber, however, that rushing out unsafe technology before its ready is unacceptable. When Uber launched autonomous vehicles in 2016 which made right-hook turns through bike lanes, we pointed out the danger of this illegal behavior.
The State of California took action, threatening to revoke the registration of the unready vehicles. Now, as the California DMV is on the cusp of issuing driverless testing permits to companies like Uber, Waymo and Cruise, we must ensure that the safety of people biking and walking is paramount. We strongly support San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell in his calls for voluntary safety checks before any autonomous vehicles operate under this permit on our streets.
We call on Uber, Waymo, Lyft, Cruise and all companies that seek to test and deploy autonomous vehicles to take responsibility for public safety.
This crash with an autonomous vehicle should never have happened. From the bottom of our hearts, we hope that autonomous vehicle operators take the steps necessary so that we never have to say that again.
Please join me in telling autonomous vehicle operators to prioritize safety first while they continue to work on street-ready technology.