San Francisco

Hit-and-run driver strikes pedestrian, tossing her into path of Cruise car in San Francisco

Woman suffers major injuries after she was struck by one vehicle and pinned by the driverless car

NBC Universal, Inc.

A woman crossing a normally busy stretch of downtown San Francisco suffered serious injuries Monday night after a hit-and-run driver struck her, throwing her into the path of an oncoming driverless Cruise car, which then ran her over, according to video recorded by the autonomous vehicle that Cruise showed to the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

The collision occurred around 9:30 p.m. near the corner of Fifth and Market streets. The driverless Cruise vehicle and the other sedan were traveling side-by-side, southbound on Fifth Street, according to video recorded by the driverless car. Cruise would not provide NBC Bay Area with a copy of the video but did show it to Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban. The roughly 20-second clip appears to show the entirety of the incident as well as the moments leading up to it.

The video begins with both vehicles stopped at a red light. Once the traffic light turns green, both vehicles continue south along Fifth Street. The sedan, which was in the left lane, ultimately hits the pedestrian shortly after crossing over Market Street. The woman, who was not in a crosswalk, was tossed over the right ride of the sedan and thrown into the right lane, where the Cruise car was traveling.

Cruise says its cooperating with law enforcement

"The (autonomous vehicle) then braked aggressively to minimize the impact," said Navideh Forghani, a Cruise spokesperson. "The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene, and at the request of the police the (autonomous vehicle) was kept in place. Our heartfelt concern and focus is the well-being of the person who was injured, and we are actively working with police to help identify the responsible driver."

Rescuers found the woman pinned beneath the left rear axel of the Cruise vehicle, according to San Francisco Fire Department Capt. Justin Schorr. After Cruise disabled the car remotely, rescuers were then "able to get the car up off her" and used the jaws of life to free her.

The woman suffered multiple traumatic injuries and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, according to first responders. Her condition was still unknown as of late Tuesday.

Cruise tells the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit it is turning over video of the accident to the San Francisco Police Department, which is now investigating the crash.

NBC Bay Area investigation delved into safety record of driverless cars

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has spent the past few months reporting on safety concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles and back in August aired an in-depth report delving into the industry's record of crashes across the state. Regulations in California require driverless car companies to self-report each collision involving an autonomous vehicle. Transportation documents, obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit through a public records request, showed autonomous cars have been in involved in at least 532 collisions since June 2018. However, in 252 of those crashes, the car was being fully controlled by the test driver, known in the industry as ‘conventional mode.’  The remaining 280 crashes occurred while the car was in full control, known as ‘autonomous mode,’ resulting in at least 64 injuries and a dead dog. Of those crashes, 42 were truly driverless – with no safety driver inside the vehicle.

If you haven’t spotted one already, it’s only a matter of time. Driverless cars are here. Would you get into one? Many people want to hit the breaks on the technology. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban explains what’s driving the controversy and what happened to him on a test run.

DMV launched safety probe into Cruise back in August

The California DMV, which is responsible for regulating autonomous vehicles across the state, has already been in the midst of investigating Cruise's safety record after what the agency described as "recent concerning incidents."

The DMV launched its probe back in August, following a collision between a Cruise vehicle and a San Francisco fire truck.

In conjunction with its announcement, the DMV also noted that Cruise agreed to cut its San Francisco fleet of driverless cars in half, limiting the company to just 50 vehicles during the day and 150 vehicles during the evening hours while the DMV continues its investigation.

The DMV, which has the power to order driverless vehicles off the road by suspending or revoking their permits, has yet to issue any findings relating to its Cruise investigation or release a timeline of when it plans to do so.

Contact The Investigative Unit

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