The vehicles operate entirely on their own. But some viral videos have shown them getting stuck or stalling, prompting the federal government to get involved.
AUSTIN, Texas — Driverless cars have become a prominent sight in Austin.
One company that operates these vehicles, Cruise, is now under investigation by the federal government over concerns of traffic and pedestrian safety.
“If anything abnormal happens during traffic, they just get super confused and like, clustered,” said Sara Beth Beasley, a junior at the University of Texas.
That very scene that Beasley described has been caught on camera. Viral videos have shown the vehicles getting stuck or stalling, prompting the federal government to get involved.
“Because it’s a computer, it doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t get distracted. It doesn’t drive drunk. We’re actually trying to get folks who are inebriated out of their cars and into ours to make the road safer that way,” said Yariel Diaz, the Senior Government Affairs Manager for Cruise LLC.
“I lived actually at that intersection where that video went viral and they were just blocking traffic. They get really confused really easily, which was super annoying,” said Beasley.
The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration opened an investigation Monday, saying Cruise cars, “may not have exercised appropriate caution around pedestrians in the roadway.”
Diaz defended the vehicles, saying that they’re “always evolving.”
“There are software updates, if not every two weeks, then once a month to improve the behaviors,” said Diaz.
“I’ve been with worse drivers before, so, I mean, it’s not like they’re reckless, they’re just slow. They’re overly cautious of anything,” said Austinite Cameron Smith.
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The federal investigation is still in its preliminary stages but Diaz says the data proves that they’re a safe option.
“We are 64% less likely to be in a collision than another rideshare company and 94% less likely to be the primary contributor of that collision,” said Diaz.
Cruise sent KVUE a statement on Friday night, highlighting their safety record:
“Cruise’s safety record over 5 million miles continues to outperform comparable human drivers at a time when pedestrian injuries and deaths are at an all-time high. Cruise communicates regularly with NHTSA and has consistently cooperated with each of NHTSA’s requests for information –– whether associated with an investigation or not –– and we plan to continue doing so.”