clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

People keep rear-ending self-driving cars in the Bay Area

But nobody has been seriously hurt, and accidents are flat year over year

A parked, black self-driving car, with a sensor box on top. Foo Connor

On May 25, a SoMa cyclist ran into the back of a General Motors self-driving car at 11th and Mission street just before 5:30 a.m.

The accident report submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles says:

A Cruise AV was traveling northbound on 11th Street in San Francisco in autonomous mode, turning left onto Mission Street. [...] A vehicle in the inner of the two left tum lanes began to cut in front of the Cruise AV.

The Cruise AV braked, and a bike that had been closely crossing behind the rear of the Cruise AV ran into the back of the Cruise AV. [...] At the time, the cyclist stated an intention to seek medical evaluation, but declined to seek emergency assistance. There was a minor scratch on the AV, and the bicycle had no visible damage.

The cyclist scraped his knee. No one else reported any injury.

There have been six reported self-driving car accidents in California this year, all of them in the Bay Area. Most of them involve someone running into the back of a robo car:

  • In February, a Toyota ran into the back of a self-driving car after itself being rear-ended by another driver in the Fillmore.
  • In March, a Mercedes ran into the back of another GM Cruise self-driving car at a green light on Tenth Street. The auto car “was traveling at 2 mph. [...] The approximate speed of the Mercedes at the time of impact was 4 mph” says the report.
  • The next day, a car on Broadway clipped a GM Cruise while trying to pass.
  • Also in March, a self-driving Google car got rear-ended in Mountain View “while slowly creeping forward with traffic at the red light.” But the car was not set to autonomous mode at the time.

The only other accident so far in 2017 was when a Google car “made contact with the curb” in Palo Alto in April. None of the collisions resulted in serious injury or vehicle damage.

All told there have been 32 accidents reported with self-driving cars in California since late 2014. The rate of reported accidents is flat compared to this same time in 2016 and 2015. Note that Californians suffer well over 100,000 conventional car accidents every year.

It does look like robot cars could learn to watch their six o’clock a little more closely, though.

Steve Jurveston