Busted: Google Auto-Pilot Car Breaks Traffic Law

When I read the headline on Jalopnik I immediately thought of the recent runaway train movie “Unstoppable.” Did one of the systems fail; did the vehicle run a red light; did it hit another car?

Nope. None of the above.

What actually happened, apparently, is the “driver” got a ticket for talking on a cell phone, which is against the law in California while driving without a hands-free unit (per CA vehicle code section 23123).

There was no actual violation by the car itself. The guy behind the wheel thought he got a pass and so was chatting away when “Johnny Law” pulled the car over.

Credit: Jalopnik

Cut to the year 2020: “It wasn’t me officer, it was the car . . . it was driving.”

To that future excuse on the autopia, the law in California already has an answer. It will treat the self-driving car like a version of cruise control and still hold the driver accountable for all moving violations.

Here’s one instance where the law doesn’t have to catch up to technology.

Postscript: I made the incorrect assumption that the driver had been pulled over — apparently he hadn’t.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Cars | Google: Legal


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.batchheader.co.uk Neil Batchelor

    How can you legislate for that?

    It’s a shame to think that they have that much technology in a car and didn’t put bluetooth in.

  • http://www.planetc1.com/ chiropractic

    I’d expect the Google street car to look more like a Black Ops Jeep with a mask wearing driver. Kinda dissapointed.

  • http://www.techmedianetwork.com mlarsen

    I’m just wondering if the car pulled over by itself when the cop turned on his lights.

  • .

    So it wasn’t really the car that was caught breaking the law, it was a google employee inside the car who did something illegal. Weird that we actually have to make that distincion now

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