Are Free Rides in Autonomous Cars a Good Thing for California?

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A pilot program has arrived in California that allows individuals to use autonomous cars. It is the first of its kind in The Golden State. The program actually includes two different types of autonomous rides. The first is with a human driver at the wheel. The other lets passengers ride without a human behind the wheel. The only catch is that the companies are not allowed to charge a fare for the ride. The question is, will this make California’s roads safer, or more dangerous?

“With what we have seen in Arizona and Los Angeles, there is certainly reason to worry about autonomous cars taking over California’s streets,” says Larry Eisenberg of the Law Offices of Eisenberg & Associates. “The programs are simply too new to release them all over the state’s roads. It may put people’s lives at risk.”

That is in fact, what happened in Arizona. A pedestrian was struck by an autonomous car while she was walking through a crosswalk. She died from her injuries. In Los Angeles, a car ran a red light and moved into oncoming traffic. After it hit an autonomous car, the driver of that vehicle was injured. There is simply no telling how many car accidents will result if autonomous cars become the norm. 

To avoid the possibility of accidents, all companies participating in the pilot program must comply with regulations set forth by the DMV. This includes reporting certain data to the CPUC four times a year. The number of total miles driven, collision information, and the average time the vehicle is inactive between passenger trips must all be included in this data.

As for passengers, they have some rules they must abide by, too. Passengers must be at least 18 years old before getting into a vehicle participating in the program. No one is allowed to use them to get a ride to the airport free of charge. Lastly, although the participating autonomous vehicles are not allowed to ask for a fare, there is also a rule that prohibits fare-splitting. 


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