Friday, March 23, 2018
Distracted driver, Uber driver, self-driving car ... pick your poison!
Mary Ward and Elaine Herzberg share something in common.
In 1869, Mary was a passenger in an experimental steam car, in Parsonstown, Ireland. As the car rounded a corner, poor Mary became the first motor vehicle fatality when she fell out and the vehicle's wheels rolled over her.
On March 18, 2018, Elaine was pushing her bicycle across a 4-lane highway in Tempe, AZ, in the dark, when she became the first self-driving motor vehicle fatality. Story HERE.
There's disturbing video footage. As the futuristic vehicle zips along the road, suddenly poor Elaine is lit up by the headlights of the guilty vehicle. (Is the vehicle guilty, since it was driving itself?) It's obviously an almost-direct hit, at highway speed... Elaine never had a chance.
There's also video of the "Safety Driver" in the vehicle. Looks like she was probably fiddlin' with her "smart phone," and looked up just in time to see Elaine go flying. So - her behavior was essentially identical to regular drivers who are distracted by their "smart phones," until the moment of impact.
In all fairness, it's doubtful that a fully-attentive driver would've seen this particular victim in time to prevent the collision. She's dressed in dark clothes, and no apparent lights, reflectors, etc. She also seems to be oblivious to the vehicle that's quickly converging on her in a traffic lane. (What the?!!) She's at least partially responsible for her own demise. But it hardly fills one with confidence in all the futuristic technology (laser, lidar, radar) that's spoze to make self-driving vehicles much safer. FAIL!
The car was an Uber vehicle. (Imagine being the passenger on the ill-fated trip!!)
Details about Uber's minimum driver standards hardly fill one with confidence. From the story:
- no violent crime convictions
- no felony convictions in the past 7 years
- no more than three non-fatal crashes (they say "accidents," but they are rarely accidents) or moving violations in 3 years
Would you feel better if you were run over by a self-driving vehicle, rather than an old-fashioned distracted-driver (or incompetent or impaired) vehicle?