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Self-Driving Car Ticketed; Company Disputes Violation

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A self-driving car was slapped with a ticket after police said it got too close to a pedestrian on a San Francisco street.

The self-driving car owned by San Francisco-based Cruise was pulled over for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Cruise says its data shows the person was far away enough from the vehicle and the car did nothing wrong.

A witness, Kevin O'Connor, snapped a photo after seeing the motorcycle officer pull over the self-driving car as O'Connor drove through the South of Market area last week. "There was another car stopped alongside and he looked a little befuddled," said O'Connor. "The cop was just writing a regular ticket like they always do."

According to data collected by Cruise, the pedestrian was 10.8 feet away from the car when, while the car was in self-driving mode, it began to continue down Harrison at 14th St. Shortly after the car accelerated, the officer pulled it over.

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In a statement, Cruise said, "Safety is our priority in testing our self-driving vehicles. California law requires the vehicle to yield the right of way to pedestrians, allowing them to proceed undisturbed and unhurried without fear of interference of their safe passage through an intersection. Our data indicates that's what happened here."

The pedestrian involved didn't get hurt. It happened a week after an Uber car in self-driving mode hit and killed a woman crossing the street, outside a crosswalk, in Tempe, Arizona.

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It's incidents like these that make people like O'Connor skeptical about whether self-driving cars will ever be safe enough.

"To me, it's almost impossible. I just don't see it happening unless every car was autonomous," he said.

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The company claims the human test driver did everything right but is now responsible for the citation. San Francisco police did not immediately respond to a KPIX inquiry about the incident.


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