When the now-ubiquitous ride-sharing service Uber debuted, taxi drivers and lawmakers around the world were in uproar. The new service destroyed the established order, undercut legitimate business enterprises, and neatly sidestepped legal troubles with a new and undefined model. Despite these growing pains, the business worked; access to efficient rides went up and prices went down. In short order, everyone learned to live with Uber.
Old dog, same tricks
Now, the company is reverting back to a reckless disregard for the law in San Francisco, where a fleet of self-driving Uber vehicles recently rolled out as a result of a partnership with Volvo. This is the second fleet of self-driving cars for the company. Last year, self-driving Ford Fusion’s hit Pittsburgh; a rollout that met with great success and held great promise for emerging self-driving technology.
It appears that Uber may have committed a massive mistake with the San Francisco fleet; the company ignored the state’s DMV rules and failed to obtain permits to test self-driving vehicles in California. Uber has since claimed that the vehicles aren’t fully autonomous, though the Pittsburgh fleet operates in full self-driving mode more often than not.
Why permitting matters
Business Insider wrote, “The tech industry will point to this as evidence of the traditional auto industry’s irrelevance: its fixation on something as trivial as safety is so 20th century. But in the world’s capitals of automaking, the engineers who built vehicles are well aware of how much damage they can do because they routinely crash 2-ton machines moving at high speed into walls.”
This paperwork problem is not just a clerical or bureaucratic issue. Uber’s failure to secure the necessary paperwork raises extremely important and valid questions for all of us. The biggest question of all, of course, is one of responsibility. Who caused the injury? Who can be held responsible when self-driving vehicle crashes and injures a passenger?
These questions have always plagued Uber passengers, who are often at the mercy of unvetted drivers working for a cloud-based company. In these situations, there is no substitute for experienced and aggressive legal counsel. If you or your loved one has been injured in an Uber or any other ride-sharing vehicle, the experienced South Carolina auto accident attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder LLC can help get you the compensation you need. Call 803-327-7800 or contact us today for a free consultation.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood