In March of 2018, the first fatal accident involving a self-driving car occurred in Tempe, Arizona. The accident involved an Uber self-driving vehicle, and shortly thereafter, the leading ride-sharing company took its self-driving vehicles off the road.

Now, approximately four months after that fatal incident, Uber is returning its self-driving cars to public roads. However, there are notable changes meant to enhance public safety this time around.

Self-Driving Cars Return, With Humans in Control

In a company announcement, Uber has indicated that self-driving cars will be returning to the Pittsburgh, PA area. However, it is in some respects to say that, while these vehicles do indeed have self-driving functionality, they will not actually be "self-driving" at all. This is because the vehicles will, for the time being, be operated manually by two human safety drivers as Uber continues to monitor and review its data on the self-driving initiative.

These drivers have been branded as "mission specialists", which differ from the single "safety driver" who was found to be watching Hulu at the time of the fatal self-driving car accident in Tempe. Effectively, the number of safety drivers has been doubled, and the drivers’ primary goal is to collect data and provide the company with valuable map updates.

Of course, this does not change Uber’s long-term strategy to make self-driving cars and their fleet of Volvo self-driving SUVs a core component of the company’s vision for safely transporting passengers.

Uber Adding More Safety Features to Self-Driving Cars

In addition to the company’s inclusion of mission specialists who will assume manual control of the self-driving cars, Uber has also added an active driver monitoring system. This system is meant to monitor the safety drivers of the vehicles who are tasked with effectively monitoring the vehicle itself.

In all likelihood, this feature is meant to safeguard against negligence that can cost lives, which includes the Hulu-watching safety driver involved in the fatal Tempe accident.

Driver monitoring systems have already been implemented in high-end luxury vehicles from Cadillac and Tesla, but it remains to be seen whether such features can fully prevent human negligence. Given human capacity for making improper decisions, even when reminded not to do so, it seems unlikely that these features will completely prevent negligence. Still, these should be viewed as welcome safety features in light of the Tempe accident, and Uber is clearly indicating that it plans to crack down on such behavior from its safety drivers.

Talk to a Ledger Law Ridesharing Lawyer If You or a Loved One Was Injured in an Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a ridesharing accident involving a self-driving car or any other form of ridesharing accident, our team at The Ledger Law Firm is ready to help.

Our national firm will utilize national resources to provide a comprehensive investigation that determines who is liable and explores all possible paths toward receiving deserved compensation.

Contact us online today for a legal consultation to discuss your ridesharing accident with a Ledger Law rideshare accident lawyer.

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