Self-driving cars in California exempt from traffic tickets: report



Self-driving cars in California are reportedly immune from traffic tickets despite mounting accident reports involving the autonomous vehicles.

An NBC Bay Area report revealed that police are unable to ticket driverless cars because of a loophole in the Golden State’s law, which says that only drivers can be ticketed for a wrongdoing on the road.

“No citation for a moving violation can be issued if the [autonomous vehicle] is being operated in a driverless mode,” read an internal memo from San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott obtained by NBC.

The moving violations Scott referred to includes speeding, running a red light and reckless driving, though self-driving cars are still eligible to receive parking fines.

“Technology evolves rapidly and, at times, faster than legislation or regulations can adapt to the changes,” Scott reportedly added.

An internal memo from the San Francisco Police Department obtained by NBC Bay Area revealed a loophole in California law that makes self-driving cars immune from moving traffic violations, like speeding. nadl2022 – stock.adobe.com

Representatives for the San Francisco Police Department did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The San Francisco Standard said in a June report that part of the reason the city doesn’t cite self-driving cars for moving violations was that there wasn’t actually a driver to cite.

“When you’re a police officer out there in the field, and there’s a vehicle that has violated the vehicle code, which happens every day in San Francisco, who do you give the citation to?” Jeffrey Tumlin, director of transportation at the SFMTA, told the outlet.

“There is additional work that needs to be done to clarify what happens when an autonomous vehicle breaks the law.”

Texas and Arizona, meanwhile — fellow testing grounds for self-driving vehicles from the likes of GM subsidiary Cruise, Tesla and Google’s Waymo — have already passed laws holding companies who operate autonomous vehicles responsible for any driving infractions.

California has yet to follow suit despite a string of concerning incidents involving self-driving cars.

In October, General Motors’ embattled Cruise self-driving cars were forced to cease operations after one of the autonomous vehicles mowed down a woman, who had to be saved with the Jaws of Life. AFP via Getty Images

In October, a woman had to be rescued with the Jaws of Life after she was mowed down on a San Francisco roadway by two cars, one of which was a Cruise autonomous vehicle.

The human-driven car that struck the woman fled the scene, and there were no passengers inside the Cruise car, leaving officials having to piece together what transpired.

Since the accident, which forced Cruise to suspend operations, it has struggled to remake itself while reducing costs in the meantime.

Last month, the company cut over 900 jobs, a quarter of its workforce — a day after it confirmed that nine key leaders are no longer with the company amid an ongoing investigation into the October crash.

Months prior, a self-driving Waymo car ran over and killed a small dog during a test drive in San Francisco.

“A test driver was present” in the driver’s seat, but the vehicle’s automatic driving system (ADS) “was engaged in autonomous mode” during the deadly accident on May 21, per an online DMV report.

Last month, Tesla issued a recall of nearly all its electric cars over mounting concerns about the safety of its self-driving system, called “Autopilot.” AFP via Getty Images

As recently as last month, virtually every Tesla on the road was recalled over regulators’ concerns that its “Autopilot” system is unsafe, part of a years-long National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into Elon Musk’s cars.

Musk had been the biggest public booster of the idea of the car doing the driving, first promising immediate “full self-driving” in 2016.

The Autopilot system allows Teslas to self-steer, accelerate and brake, but needs a driver in the front seat. Tesla is updating the software but has insisted the system is safe.

However, Austin, Texas-based Tesla has not gone as far as others, which have launched live trials on city streets of cars with empty driving seats.



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