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'A Lot Of People Afraid': Residents Fear Self-Driving Cars On Roads After Recent Accidents

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – Some Mountain View residents are concerned about self-driving cars after recent, high-profile accidents.

Mountain View is home to 19 self-driving car companies and people often see the cars tested on the streets.

Mountain View's economic development director is quoted in a blog, basically asking if pedestrians and other drivers are being put in too much danger while all these companies test their cars.

A week ago, regulators at the California DMV said it was okay to start operating them without a human on board.

A lot of residents are concerned, pointing to some recent high-profile accidents including the death of a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

Mountain View resident Don Kennedy said, "In the last month or so there's been a few, one was deadly. So I don't think it's time yet."

Jacki Calvert works in Mountain View and said, "I think a lot of people are kind of afraid right now."

The state's rules include written notification to local communities, certification of all vehicles, a communication link with a remote operator monitoring the vehicle and the ability of police to take control of it.

But beyond the state's requirements, cities have no power to enact their own restrictions.

Alex Andrade, Mountain View's economic development manager said, "That is true. However, we have a long-time company that's been doing autonomous vehicle testing for over nine years..."

That company is Waymo, a division of Google, which says it has logged 5 million miles since 2009 without a serious incident.

Still, the city hopes to collaborate with the various tech companies as they submit their required testing plans to law enforcement.

"It's always going to be about public safety. We wouldn't want to emulate what happened, unfortunately, in the recent accident in Arizona," Andrade said.

But those who support the technology say it's not fair to brand autonomous cars as more dangerous when thousands die each year in human-caused crashes.

Maximillian Mattich also works in Mountain View and said, "The science proves that the technology is slowly proving that autonomous drivers are much better drivers than humans, so we'll hopefully see a much greater decrease in human casualties. So I think it's unfortunate, but it's necessary."

But it's also understandable that some are nervous when the next big step is having no one at the wheel.

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