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Pedestrian Death Raises Questions of Autonomous Vehicle Safety

Jason Reese


  • Tragically, a woman in Arizona, has died after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber, in what appears to be the first known death of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle on a public road.
  • Police have since reported that the vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel when it struck the woman, who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.
  • Arizona has largely taken a hands-off approach to the driverless car industry regulation resulting in technology companies pouring into the state to test their self-driving vehicles.
  • On the other hand, Indiana’s House and Senate have been bantering for years on how to regulate autonomous vehicles operating on Indiana’s roadways, but they can’t agree that operator driving laws and road infrastructures are ready.
  • At Wagner Reese, we like to be on top of Indiana’s trend toward welcoming autonomous vehicles onto the roads, so stay tuned for further posts on the issue.

First Known Pedestrian Death from Autonomous Vehicle Occurred in Arizona

Our auto accident legal team at Wagner Reese thought it was tough to read the news about the Arizona woman who died while crossing the street in what appears to be the first known death of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle on a public road. The self-driving car was operated by Uber and set in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel at the time of the tragic accident.

This being the first fatal crash of its kind, eyebrows are sure to be raised about regulations for self-driving cars in other states teetering on creating (or not creating) self-driving car laws. Autonomous cars are highly touted to be ultimately safer than human drivers because they lack the ability to make driver errors like distractions, speeding, and driving under the influence. Although that sounds wonderful, technology companies have struggled for years with how to teach the autonomous systems to adjust for unpredictable human driving or behavior. This tragic accident may help provide some answers.

Ready For Self-Driving Vehicles

Since the team at Wagner Reese prides itself on providing sound advice, intelligent legal strategies, and the vigorous representation needed to maximize injury settlements, we would be wrong not to think about how autonomous vehicles would fit into the car accident claim scenario. We have already witnessed the occurrence of automated cars causing crashes in other states where limits have been set on liability for these driverless vehicles and now a death of a pedestrian in Arizona. What does all of this mean if Indiana follows suit just to welcome more business to the state? When will the Indiana infrastructure and laws to support the victims of driverless vehicle accidents be in place? Automated cars aren’t perfect and because of that we still have to determine how to place fault based on many new factors while staying excited that the technology will indeed prevent injuries and save lives.

We plan to stay on top of the latest proposals and developments on the issue to share what may be coming next for autonomous vehicles sharing the road with Hoosiers drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Stay with us.

Car Accident Injury Attorneys Who Know the Facts

If you’ve already suffered an injury in a car accident or were a pedestrian injured by a vehicle, whether it was from an autonomous vehicle or not, the attorneys at Wagner Reese have decades of experience in personal injury law. We can assist you in recovering the damages you are owed for the injuries you have incurred.

Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation or speak with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information.


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