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There have been 12 self-driving car crashes in Arizona since July 2021

By: - June 29, 2022 2:00 pm

The Waymo logo is displayed on a self-driving vehicle at the Google I/O 2018 Conference at Shoreline Amphitheater on May 8, 2018 in Mountain View, California. A federal study says such Waymo vehicles are involved in the majority of the 12 reported accidents of self-driving vehicles in Arizona since last summer, though no injuries were reported. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A recently released report by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration revealed that since new mandatory reporting requirements began, Arizona has reported 12 crashes involving self-driving cars since July of last year.

Autonomous vehicles have been a regular sight on Arizona roadways since 2015, when Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order laying out how autonomous vehicles would be tested in the state, opening the door for companies to begin testing.

Companies like Waymo, Nuro and TuSimple have been testing their vehicles in a variety of capacities on Arizona roads and even on the state’s freeways.

Most notably has been Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has been testing both autonomous semi-trucks along the I-10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson as well as a fleet of other autonomous vehicles in the Greater Phoenix area.

The company makes up the bulk of the crash reports in the dataset, both in Arizona and across the country. Of the crashes involving autonomous vehicles in Arizona since July reported to NHTSA, only one involved a company other than Waymo, the autonomous semi-truck company TuSimple.

The majority of the incidents involve Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica model and no injuries were reported in any of the crashes, according to the data.

“As seen in these crash reports, Waymo has not been involved in a high-severity collision,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement to the Arizona Mirror.

Many of the crash reports are sparse on details and Waymo removed details as to where exactly and when the crashes occurred, making it hard to pinpoint or make records requests with public agencies to reveal further details about the collisions that occurred.

“On April [XXX], 2022 at 6:29 PM PST a Waymo Autonomous Vehicle (Waymo AV) operating in Phoenix, Arizona was in a collision involving a motorcycle on [XXX] at [XXX],” one report by Waymo in the dataset says. “The Waymo AV was preparing to make a right turn from southbound [XXX] onto westbound [XXX], when it slowed to yield to a pedestrian crossing [XXX].”

A Waymo spokesperson said that the company is “leading the industry in transparent safety reporting” pointing out their safety framework report, which details how the company tests their vehicles.

A Waymo semi-truck had a collision with a box-truck in February of this year while in the small town of Sacaton and was reportedly going 50 mph in a 75 mph zone. The crash occurred while attempting to change lanes, according to the data.

The majority of the collisions happened while the vehicles were stopped.

For example, in Tempe, a Waymo was waiting to pick up passengers when a car backed into the Waymo before leaving the scene. In October in Chandler, a Waymo was rear-ended at a stoplight and according to the NHTSA data, collisions to the rear of self-driving vehicles were the most common.

While there have been 12 self-driving car collisions since July 2021 in Arizona, last year saw a major increase in traffic fatalities in conventional vehicles, with the number reaching over 1,100, a 14% increase from 2019.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation there were a total of 98,778 car crashes in Arizona in 2020.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.