Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on June 21, 2024
Cruise Hit with $112,500 Fine by CPUC for Delayed Report on San Francisco Pedestrian IncidentSource: Mliu92, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The autonomous vehicle landscape in San Francisco met with regulatory brakes as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) imposed a significant fine on the driverless car company, Cruise. The CPUC order decrees that Cruise must disburse $112,500 in penalties over an incident where its vehicle dragged a pedestrian 20 feet in a harrowing encounter, as reported by NBC Bay Area. Failure to disclose information about the October 2 collision in a forthright and timely manner is the crux of the penalty.

The lapse of information came to light when Cruise's driverless cars failed to recognize a woman trapped underneath the vehicle, resulting in her being dragged across a road in San Francisco. Per CPUC, Cruise lingered for 15 days before providing complete information about this disturbing incident. According to documents from the California Public Utilities Commission, this delay has cost Cruise $7,500 for each day the complete information was held back, culminating in the maximum allowable penalty under current laws.

Furthering the repercussions, Cruise's permit to transport passengers remains in suspension, with CPUC offering no indication of when it might be reinstated. The tangled events of this incident and the ensuing punishment stand as a stark reminder of the grave responsibility companies hold in the new frontier of autonomous vehicle technology, an area where human safety and trust are paramount, and where the cost of transgression is swiftly tallied.

During the proceedings, Craig Glidden, the President and Chief Administrative Officer of Cruise, represented his company, ultimately agreeing to a penalty "in the amount of $112,500, up from a previous settlement offer of $75,000," as confirmed by the California Public Utilities Commission in a public document. This figure represents the cap imposed by the Public Utilities Code §5378(b), cementing the state's stance on corporate accountability in the wake of potentially life-threatening errors by emergent technologies. While Cruise has not provided public comment on the penalty, the financial reprimand signals the substantial risks and duties that herald the advent of driverless endeavors.