Press "Enter" to skip to content

Activists in San Francisco demand governor shut down self-driving cars

Activists rallied in San Francisco’s Chinatown to demand Gov. Gavin Newsom ban all autonomous vehicles from city streets.

The group was organized by the Network for Safety in Our Streets and For Working People, which is a coalition of San Francisco residents, safety advocates trade unionists and workers.

It says it’s outraged by the recent attack and burning of a Google Waymo robotaxi during the Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown on Feb. 10.

And that attack reflected the anger and disgust the people of San Francisco have for self-driving cars.

The group says robotaxis have been involved in hundreds of accidents since they began operating on city streets and that nothing compares to having a real person behind the wheel.

“We don’t do the kinds of things that these guys do,” said Mark Gruberg of the San Francisco Taxi Alliance. “We don’t run into fire trucks. We don’t drive into wet concrete. We don’t run over people and drag them for 20 feet because we don’t recognize there’s a human being under our wheels.”

On Oct. 2, a hit-and-run driver struck a pedestrian in San Francisco, throwing her into the path of a Cruise robotaxi.

An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed the Cruise car aggressively braked before impact and attempted to pull over to the side of the road, dragging the pedestrian forward about 20 feet in the process.

That triggered the California Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend Cruise’s permit to operate its driverless fleet. General Motors, which operates Cruise, soon recalled 950 robotaxis.

However, Waymo and Amazon’s Zoox still operate in San Francsico. The group says that presents an ethical dilemma because the robotaxis have proven to be unsafe.

“They don’t care who they hit as long as they’re making profits,” said Edward Escobar, founder of the Alliance for Independent Workers. “We need to have the oversight. And we are not guinea pigs here in California. We’re not guinea pigs here in SF. We’re not guinea pigs in the Bay Area.”

The group also criticized Governor Newsom for vetoing a bill that would’ve banned autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds from operating on California streets and highways without a human driver present.

“You have a governor who doesn’t really care if these vehicles violate the DMV rules,” said Steve Zeltzer a representative for the United Front for a Labor Party. “A governor who doesn’t care if you have driverless truck on the highways, threatening the health and safety of people.”
The group says the California legislature almost unanimously supported the bill in September.

It also accused Governor Newsom of accepting campaign money from Waymo’s parent company, Google.

We reached out to the governor’s office for comment, but haven’t heard back.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *