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Self-Driving Car Involved in Fatal Accident in Arizona

A 49 year old woman was fatally hit, while crossing the street by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona earlier this month.  The crash happened around 10 p.m. Sunday March 18th near Mill Avenue and Curry Road.  This incident is believed to be the first pedestrian death involving an autonomous or self-driving vehicle.

The vehicle was a Volvo that was in autonomous mode when the accident happened.  It did however have a backup driver behind the wheel, which is common for Uber in case the vehicle has to be taken out of self-driving mode.   The victim was walking her bike across the street when she was struck by the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries.  The vehicle captured a video that Tempe police released that shows the moments before the pedestrian was struck.  According to the police, the vehicle was going 40 miles an hour in a 45-mile-an-hour zone and it did not slow down before impact.

Police in Tempe and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.  This incident adds to the ongoing debate of the safety and feasibility of autonomous vehicles and how close they are to becoming more common on the roadways.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has since suspended Uber’s self-driving testing in the state due to the fatality.  Uber also voluntary suspended autonomous vehicle testing across North America in response to the crash.  They had been testing in San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto.