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Operator of self-driving car charged with negligent homicide

The way people get around in Arizona and elsewhere is always changing. Whether it’s by personal vehicle, public transportation or ride-sharing, individuals rely on a variety of means to reach their destinations.

Over the last few years, the use of ride-share apps has increased. Driving on busy roads can be stressful and not every owns a vehicle, making services like Uber and Lyft a convenient alternative to driving. However, self-driving vehicles are starting to become a reality, even for ride-sharing.

The dangers of self-driving vehicles

Like any vehicle, self-driving vehicles pose certain risks on the roadway. In 2018, a self-driving vehicle collision in Tempe resulted in the death of a pedestrian. The back-up driver inside the vehicle was recently charged with negligent homicide for her part in the accident.

Investigations revealed that the back-up safety driver was in a self-driving vehicle being tested by Uber Technologies. While the vehicle could operate itself, the back-up driver was there to take control as needed to prevent any accidents. The automatic emergency braking system had been purposefully deactivated, as the back-up driver was present to brake in the event of an emergency.

However, distracted drivers can cause fatal accidents, even in self-driving vehicles.

Distracted driving impairs back-up driver

Investigators determined that the pedestrian accident with the self-driving vehicle, the first of its kind, was caused by the negligence of the back-up driver. They concluded that the back-up driver failed to monitor the roadways and was using her phone to watch a show, causing an entirely preventable accident.

Remaining attentive and vigilant behind the wheel is imperative for road safety, even when behind the wheel of a self-driving vehicle. Distracted driving is an ongoing concern and the cause of many serious and fatal crashes.

Victims of a car crash or those who lost a loved one due to the negligence of a distracted driver should understand their rights. Civil action could help hold a negligent driver responsible and result in compensation to address financial burdens like medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship and other related damages.