SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, March 26, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition sent a public letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles in an attempt to halt the state’s allocation of permits to companies testing driverless cars. The letter comes following the death of pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, who was killed by a driverless Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona.
The coalition asked for a full-fledged investigation into the crash involving Herzberg, which took place on March 18. Though the letter was open to the public, it was addressed to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.
“There is no benefit to the public in rushing this process, especially in light of events that call into question the safety of this technology as developed by Uber in Arizona as well as enforcement of AV test driver qualifications and standards of behavior,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition.
Brian Wiedenmeier, Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, claims that the accident in Arizona is evidentiary support for the organization’s assertion that self-driving cars are simply unfit for California roadways.
There are currently 50 companies that deploy automated vehicle technology in the state of California. A DMV spokesperson disclosed to the SF Examiner that companies could begin testing cars without drivers as soon as Monday, April 2 under new DMV guidelines.
“The CA DMV has jurisdiction over the entire state, but I want to stress that San Francisco is likely to see more permits issued for testing than any other county. Given the density of likely AV testing in our city, people who walk and bike in San Francisco would be put in the greatest danger if unsafe technology is rushed to fully autonomous testing without understanding any potentially fatal flaws. Given that potential danger, I ask you to give special consideration to this request. The long-term potential for AV technology to improve safety on our streets can only be realized if we carefully manage its testing and deployment,” said Wiedenmeier in the letter.
The SF Bike Petition can be found on the agency’s website at sfbike.org.