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Posted on 03-25-2018

Autonomous Uber Strikes and Kills Pedestrian In Arizona

As my avid blog followers are already aware I am a Baltimore Chiropractor with three Baltimore chiropractic clinics in Baltimore, MD. We treat patients almost exclusively with headaches, neck pain and back pain. Many of our patients have suffered injuries as a result of Baltimore auto accidents and have developed whiplash symptoms. A small subset of our patient population suffer from pedestrian accidents - where they are struck by motor vehicles while walking. Typically these injuries are more severe than typical car accident injuries. That is because humans don't have bumpers. We are not designed to withstand the forces of vehicles traveling at or above the speed limit. We often see these patients require additional treatment and in some instances, they do not make complete recoveries due to the extent of their injuries.

I recently came across an article that detailed the first reported death as a result of an autonomous vehicle. In Tempe, Arizona, one of Ubers autonomous vehicle test cities, a woman was struck and killed by an autonomous uber SUV. This is obviously terrible news for the deceased and her family and my heart goes out to them due to this terrible tragedy. Interestingly, at the time of the impact, there was a human behind the wheel while the vehicle operated in autonomous mode.

By looking at data from cameras within the car both before and during the impact, police were able to determine that the woman was crossing the street holding a bicycle at approximately 10 p.m. and that the human operator behind the wheel was distracted. She's shown looking down at least twice before the fatal impact. Although this is merely speculation, it is thought that she was glancing down at her cell phone just before the impact. If you want to see video footage both inside and outside of the vehicle just before the impact, click here. WARNING, it is graphic.

We were told that autonomous vehicles were safe. We were told that they didn't even need human drivers behind the wheel because of their advanced technologies and sensors. But in this case, Uber has failed us as a society. Not only did the Uber vehicle fail to sense and avoid impacting this woman, but the driver who was supposed to have had her hands hovering above the steering wheel was distracted. She was not alert as we were promised given the nature of this technology.

This tragedy teaches us that self driving cars are still in their infancy. Now with this terrible tragedy, it is likely that red tape and delays will prevent the evolution of this technology out of fear for repeat pedestrian injuries and future deaths. The question that keeps coming up surrounding this technology is - do we really want driver's to be completely dependent on their vehicle? Do we want to give up the ability for the human mind to anticipate situations and avoid impacts? I for one, do not want to see a day with only autonomous vehicles on the road. While this is the first known example of a terrible tragedy, it proves that the technology, while ubiquitous, is not nearly as safe and ready for mainstream as once thought.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a Baltimore auto accident or Baltimore pedestrian injury, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to get you back on the road to recovery today.

Dr. Gulitz

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