Uber's fully autonomous car program has suffered a serious setback after one of its vehicles hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first time an autonomous vehicle operating in self-driving mode has caused a fatality. The self-driving Uber struck a woman crossing a street in Tempe.
On the night of March 18, 2018, a 49-year-old woman named Elaine Herzberg was struck by one of Uber's autonomous cars in Tempe, Arizona. Elaine was walking her bicycle across the street when she was struck by the car and died as a result of this incident. This is believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving vehicles.
On Sunday night, a pedestrian was killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. According to officials, the woman was crossing a four-lane road outside the designated cross walk when she was hit at approximately 10:00 p.m. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she later died. The woman is believed to be the first pedestrian killed by a self-driving vehicle. At the time of the accident, the Uber vehicle was reportedly in autonomous mode with a vehicle operator in the front seat. There were no passengers in the vehicle at the time. Autonomous mode means the car is driving on its own. However, during testing, a person sits behind the wheel as a safeguard. Uber is conducting tests of autonomous vehicles in Arizona, Pittsburgh, Toronto and other areas throughout the United States and Canada. In the wake of the accident, Uber announced that it has temporarily halted its self-driving test operations across North America. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to Arizona to investigate the accident which comes nearly a year after an Uber self-driving vehicle was involved in another crash in Tempe. In that accident, the Uber vehicle rolled on its side, although there were no reported injuries.
According to recent reports, a combination of dropping fares, profitable incentives, and a lack of caps on the number of hours drivers can work during one shift has led some Uber drivers to work dangerously long shifts. Uber reports that only seven percent of its drivers work more than 50 hours per week, while more than half of its drivers use the Uber app less than ten hours a week. However, other sources report that it is not uncommon for Uber drivers to work up to 16 hours a day. Unlike Uber, some ride-hailing services limit the number of hours its drivers can work during a shift. For example, Lyft shuts off its app after 14 hours and requires drivers to wait six hours before they can access the app and begin driving again. In addition, Uber drivers reportedly receive notifications when they are not picking up enough passengers. Uber also offers incentives such as bonuses for completing a certain number of rides within a given timeframe, which can encourage drivers to continue driving despite fatigue.
A federal judge said two women whom allege sexual assault against Uber drivers can to sue the company for the alleged attacks. One sexual assault allegation comes out of South Carolina and the other from Boston. In San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston stated the accusations of sexual assault made against the Uber drivers may be valid due to the possibility that the drivers were acting in the scope of their employment when the crimes occurred. Uber argued that the divers are independent contractors, the company is not responsible for their actions, and the lawsuits should be dismissed. In addition, Uber made the argument that one of the drivers may not have even used the company cellphone app before the alleged assault, further indicating he was not working for Uber at the time of the alleged incident, independent contractor or not.
A lawsuit was filed against Uber after one of its drivers caused a collision in Miami Beach, Florida. The suit was brought by Richard Day, M.D. and his wife Jean Day. Dr. and Mrs. Day were in town for a medical conference in December of 2015. The couple requested an Uber ride, and driver Ingrid Parra picked them up from the Eden Roc Hotel. Ms. Parra immediately crashed into another car after turning into traffic along Collins Avenue. Ms. Parra was issued a citation for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.
In August, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) determined that Uber drivers are employees of the company. Uber has previously claimed their drivers are merely independent contractors, however, after the EDD found a former driver in Southern California was an employee, an administrative law judge and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board upheld the decision.
Uber has settled with the family of six-year-old Sofia Liu who was killed by one of their drivers on New Year's Eve in San Francisco. At the time of the accident, the driver was logged into the Uber app on his phone, but he was not currently carrying any passengers. Uber originally tried to argue that this meant they were not liable since the driver was not providing services at the time of the accident. The court disagreed with Uber and found that they could be held liable for the negligence of one of their drivers even if that driver was not currently transporting any passengers.
Houston's transportation options have shrunk. On November 20, Lyft, a car service competitor of Uber and taxicabs, ceased operations. The cessations comes after both Lyft and Uber worked for months to get Houston's city council to legalize their ride sharing platforms in the face of stiff opposition from taxi companies and drivers. Now, however, Lyft has decided that the regulations that the city put into place are too onerous and aren't worth the cost associated with compliance.