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Driverless Cars Reportedly Exempt From Certain Traffic Tickets in California

Driverless Cars Reportedly Exempt From Certain Traffic Tickets in California

It appears law enforcement may have limited power in addressing violations by driverless cars, exempting them from traffic tickets. Autonomous vehicles have been observed disregarding traffic signals, getting in the way of emergency units, and driving into construction areas. However, as per NBC’s report, police face limitations when it comes to addressing rule violations by driverless cars. In California, traffic tickets can only be issued if there is a human driver present in the vehicle.

An internal memo from San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott reveals how police may respond to driverless cars breaking the law. It tells officers that “no citation for a moving violation can be issued if the [driverless car] is being operated in a driverless mode.” Scott continues, “Technology evolves rapidly and, at times, faster than [laws] can adapt to the changes.”

The loophole only applies to moving violations, such as speeding. However, driverless cars remain susceptible to getting parking fines.

Texas, often seen as a major testing location for autonomous vehicles, took steps to work with the new technology by revising its traffic laws in 2017. As outlined in the Texas Transportation Code, the owner of a driverless car is deemed the “operator.” They can be held accountable for traffic law violations, regardless of their physical presence within the vehicle.

Arizona Has Dealt With Driverless Car Tickets Differently

Arizona, another big hub for autonomous vehicles, followed suit by taking similar measures. It revised its traffic laws to align with the changing landscape. The state decided that driverless cars “may be issued a traffic citation or other applicable penalty if the vehicle fails to comply with traffic or motor vehicle laws.”

In November, Cruise, a GM-owned company, issued a recall for its entire fleet of robotaxis in San Francisco. This decision came after a person was dragged 20 feet under one of the cars. This was following an accident with another vehicle. Locals recently raised concerns that Cruise’s robotaxis as dangerous. As a result, the company has been forbidden from operating its autonomous vehicles in California. It is currently under investigation by federal lawmakers.

Despite logging more than 5 million driverless miles, Cruise has yet to experience a single traffic-related death since deploying their driverless vehicles. However, the question remains whether this track record says a lot. On average, human drivers cause one death for every 100 million miles driven, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.