Self-Driving Cars: Potentially Dangerous for Motorcycles – Florida Motorcycle Training

Who is Liable for Damages When There is no Human Driver?

A near-miss between a self-driving Tesla and a Phoenix motorcycle police officer last year raised eyebrows in the motorcycle community even Florida Motorcycle Trainingthough there were no damages or injuries.

According to USA Today: The officer, who was in front of the Tesla, stopped for a traffic signal, police said. After also stopping briefly, the Tesla began creeping forward, prompting the officer to jump off his motorcycle and move away. The officer later estimated the car was moving at about three miles per hour, police said. There were no injuries or damage.

Recently The Mercury News reported: General Motors is in a race to be the first company to mass produce self-driving cars, but a recent crash with a San Francisco motorcyclist has illustrated the tricky challenge of assigning blame when an autonomous vehicle gets in an accident.

Self-driving cars operate using sensors and those sensors are calibrated to “see” cars, trucks, and trees. Obviously they won’t tell the car to slam on the brakes if a pigeon crosses the road, but somewhere between a large truck and a bird is a motorcycle. Are these cars going to be able to detect a motorcycle when one is riding alongside on the highway?

We have a right to know if these new vehicles are a danger to motorcyclists and what protection we have if they cause an accident with injuries or worse.

If you’ve had an experience with a self-driving car we would like to know about it. Please email us at and let us know the details.

Florida Motorcycle Training

We teach our students to never assume the driver of a car can see you. In fact, it’s best to assume they cannot see you. When there is no driver, who knows if the sensors and computer will react to your presence. To sign up for one of our courses, please call 858•412•7433