San Francisco has lots of self-driving cars. They’re driving first responders nuts

San Francisco’s first responders are experiencing increasing incidents with self-driving cars impeding their operations. California’s transportation regulator will decide on whether to allow more autonomous vehicles on the road this week.

The Current Conflict: San Francisco’s police and fire departments have reported 55 incidents in the past six months where self-driving cars have interfered with rescues.
* Incidents include the autonomous vehicles running through emergency tapes, blocking firehouse driveways and refusing to give way to emergency service vehicles.

Who’s Behind the Wheel: The self-driving cars are operated by Cruise, owned by General Motors, and Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet.
* While some cars have human safety drivers, others are completely unstaffed.
* Waymo currently has permits for 250 vehicles, deploying around 100 at any given time, and Cruise runs up to 400 cars on San Francisco roads daily.

Safety Concerns: The fire department has documented instances of driverless cars rolling over fire hoses, slowing down emergency vehicles and potentially jeopardizing public safety.
* Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson emphasizes that in emergency situations, every second counts and autonomous vehicles blocking emergency services could lead to greater harm.

Calls for Caution: Several police officer and firefighter associations, along with hundreds of California residents, have publicly urged the regulator to restrict further deployment of driverless cars.
* They believe more research is needed before adding more autonomous vehicles on the roads.
* Many have echoed Fire Chief Nicholson’s assertion that driverless cars are “not ready for prime time.”

View original article on NPR

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