Police pulled over a Waymo car for driving in the oncoming lane

2024-07-06 11:56


A Waymo car driving on a road in San Francisco.
Photo: Andrej Sokolow / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

On June 19th, a Phoenix police officer pulled over an autonomous Waymo vehicle that had been driving in an oncoming traffic lane. The car was apparently confused by some construction signs and reportedly ran a red light before pulling over in a parking lot to let the officer talk to one of Waymo’s support representatives.

In about two-and-a-half minutes of bodycam footage published by AZCentral, the officer told Waymo the car was driving in a construction zone when it “went into opposing lanes of traffic, which is real bad.” He then told a curious bystander what had happened, adding, “so I light it up and it takes off in the intersection.” A dispatch record reportedly said the car drove through a red light and ‘FREAKED OUT’ before it pulled over.

Waymo told multiple outlets that the vehicle drove into the oncoming lane because of “inconsistent construction signage,” and that it “was blocked from navigating back into the correct lane.” The company said the car drove away from the cop “in an effort to clear the intersection” before pulling into the parking lot where the traffic stop took place. The company reportedly said the stop lasted “approximately one minute.”

“UNABLE TO ISSUE CITATION TO COMPUTER,” say dispatch records, AZCentral writes. Arizona law does allow officers to give out tickets when a robotaxi commits a traffic violation while driving autonomously; however, officers have to give them to the company that owns the vehicle. Doing so is “not feasible,” according to a Phoenix police spokesperson quoted by trade publication Repairer Driven News earlier this year.

Waymo didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment. The company told Fox 10 Phoenix that its cars “are three-and-a-half times more likely” to avoid a crash than a human being. The company has said in the past that its cars are 2.3 times less likely to end up in a police-reported crash.

Even so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating almost two dozen incidents involving the Alphabet-owned company’s vehicles. In recent months, the cars have been recorded endangering other road users, and both Cruise and Waymo have had a history of interfering with emergency responders. The company also had to recall its vehicles last month after one collided with a telephone pole.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2024/7/6/24193094/phoenix-waymo-car-pulled-over-traffic-stop-oncoming-lane-police