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Autonomous Cars Are Being Attacked in Phoenix

By Zachary Mushkatel on

Futuristic autonomous car self-driving in the street.

Companies like Waymo and Uber are all developing self-driving technology with the hopes that they will usher in the age of the driverless car. These companies claim that inattention and human error cause more than 90 percent of auto accidents. By removing the possibility of driver mistakes, these companies hope that self-driving cars will improve road conditions and save lives.

However, in order to release self-driving cars to the public, companies must perform extensive testing and give their technology exposure to a variety of road conditions. As a result, cities across the country, including Phoenix, have become testing sites for self-driving cars.

For the most part, curiosity and enthusiasm surround driverless car technology and innovation. But not everyone shares this enthusiasm. Many self-driving cars and the operators who supervise them have become the target of public disapproval. Some residents in testing site cities have tried to run the cars off of the road, slashed tires in intersections and even threatened self-driving car passengers with violence.

Why Are Attacks on Driverless Cars Occurring?

In March 2018, one of Uber’s self-driving cars struck a pedestrian at a crosswalk in Tempe. The pedestrian died as a result of the incident. In response, Uber’s self-driving cars were banned from testing in Arizona, and many local residents’ attitudes toward self-driving vehicles became cautious if not distrustful. Many people who have been apprehended or cited for vandalizing self-driving cars refer to the fatality as a reason for why they are opposed to this new technology.

Even though Uber no longer tests self-driving cars in Phoenix, you can still spot Waymo self-driving vehicles in the area. The hostility continues. National Public Radio reports that people have vandalized Waymo cars when they are parked, slashed tires while the vehicles are stopped at intersections and forced the vehicles off of the road. One Phoenix man reportedly forced as many as six self-driving cars off of the road.

The attacks on these vehicles are not victimless crimes. Vehicle testing occurs under the supervision of an employee who rides in the vehicle and is able to take control of it at any time. The passenger may take manual control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, due to the attacks on self-driving cars, employees who ride in them have been the ones most affected by these targeting efforts.

Phoenix Autonomous Car Test Sites

Currently, Waymo is the only company testing in and around the Phoenix area. In Arizona, these vehicles can be found in Phoenix, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa and Guadalupe. The self-driving vehicles are marked with the company’s logo, making it relatively easy for other drivers to spot these test vehicles. Unfortunately, this includes people who wish to deface them.

The Waymo project began back in 2009, initially under the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Over the last 10 years, the project has evolved, going through several different vehicle iterations and involving testing all over the country. In addition to Phoenix, Waymo self-driving vehicles can be found in Atlanta, Austin, Detroit and Kirkland, Washington, as well as in a number of cities in California.

Are Driverless Cars Safer?

The self-driving car project is ambitious. Companies often cite their desire to make the road a safer and easier place to move around as the driving force behind developing this technology. With millions of miles in driving experience, Waymo claims that its technology is well-equipped to manage road conditions and deal with issues as they unfold. For instance, sensors on the cars are designed to visualize and detect obstacles in low-visibility weather conditions like fog.

Even though Waymo is working to consider an array of conditions and experiences, self-driving cars and their inability to process information in the same way that humans do unsettles many people who share the road with them. Since driverless cars have been tested only in somewhat closed situations, widespread safety statistics on driverless cars remain unknown.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Hurt by a Driverless Car?

If you have been involved in an accident with a driverless car and suffered injuries as a result, you should treat the situation in the same way that you would treat any other car collision. In other words, if the collision results in serious injuries, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can.

If you are able to stay at the scene of the accident, you should call a police officer to come to the crash site to make a report of the accident. A police report will be useful to you in the insurance claims process. It will also be helpful if you choose to seek the help of an injury attorney. Though the police officer will evaluate the scene and take your information, it is a good idea to take your own pictures of the site as well as photos of any damage to your car and the other vehicles.

If you have been injured by a driverless car, you will want to seek the representation of an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you to hold the self-driving car company acountable for your injuries. The lawyer can also pursue all compensation that you are due by going through the process of negotiation and settlement or by taking your case to trial.

Our Phoenix Car Accident Attorneys Will Fight for You

If you have been injured by a driverless car, you may be able to take legal action against those responsible for causing your injuries. The companies testing driverless cars have a duty to the communities that allow them to test their products. While innovation can be exciting, it should not cost anyone their safety. If you have been involved in an incident with a self-driving vehicle in Glendale, Peoria, Sun City, Scottsdale, or another city near Phoenix, reach out to Mushkatel Robbins & Becker, PLLC, today for a free consultation. We want to help you to seek the compensation that you need to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life.