Google gets reminder that blocking California traffic is a sin

12 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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A Mountain View cop pulled over Google’s self-driving car to find out why it was holding up traffic by driving too slowly along a heavily travelled section of El Camino Real. According to PD’s blog post

A Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave. The car was traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone. As the officer approached the slow moving car he realized it was a Google Autonomous Vehicle. The officer stopped the car and made contact with the operators to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and to educate the operators about impeding traffic per… the California Vehicle Code. The Google self-driving cars operate under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Definition… of the California Vehicle Code and can only be operated on roadways with speed limits at or under 35 mph. In this case, it was lawful for the car to be traveling on the street as El Camino Real is rated at 35 mph.

Google’s own blog post blew the incident off as pure curiosity on the cop’s part…

Like this officer, people sometimes flag us down when they want to know more about our project. After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!

And they’re right, they didn’t get ticketed. Just had a friendly discussion with a traffic officer about blocking traffic. It’s a familiar conversation for many cyclists as well, who, rightfully, claim a lane for safety, but fail to pull over to let backed up cars get by when there’s a safe chance to do so.