Autonomous Car Strikes Pedestrian Resulting in Serious Injuries
San Francisco is home to General Motors autonomous cars Cruise (as well as Google’s model Waymo) which have caused some concern and chaos recently on the busy city streets. On Monday, October 2, 2023, around 9:30pm, a woman was struck by a regular car while crossing the intersection, and then pushed beneath a Cruise autonomous vehicle. She was then taken to San Francisco General Hospital with multiple traumatic injuries. According to one ABC7 news report, the “San Francisco Fire Department says they had to use the ‘jaws of life’ to lift the car off of the woman, who was trapped underneath.”[i]
According to this same news report, a statement issued by Cruise (owned by General Motors), seemingly shifted the blame to the driver who fled the scene and originally struck the victim, noting that the AV “braked aggressively to minimize the impact.” Police are investigating the incident, and federal and California state officials are in discussions with General Motors regarding the accident as well.
While the investigation remains ongoing, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to reduce its fleet size in San Francisco by 50%, which is sure to impact the company financially, as it is only allowed to operate 50 driverless vehicles in the city during the day, and 150 autonomous vehicles each night.
This accident adds to a growing sample of incidents over the past few months in San Francisco involving autonomous vehicles. One source noted that the vehicles have gotten in the way of first responders and caused serious injury in several cases. The issue has caught the attention of California’s policymakers and politicians, and we will be watching closely to stay in the know about future updates in this matter.