Letters to the Editor - week of Nov. 28

Waymo should provide accident data

Earlier this month, the California Department of Motor Vehicles approved testing of self-driving cars by Waymo without safety drivers. Waymo would like to begin providing driverless transportation services in a handful of towns, including Los Altos.

There is only one question that matters with respect to whether self-driving cars are safe enough to be on our roads without safety drivers: How often would there have been an accident if the safety driver had not taken control of the vehicle?

Waymo has not released this information and did not answer the question when asked at the Community Forum held at Grant Park Oct. 17. Waymo captures all of the data from every mile driven so that it can play the scenarios back in simulation and use that to further improve performance. The last time Waymo (then Google) released this data for its vehicles, in 2016, it was one accident every 40,000 miles driven, if the safety driver had not intervened. People, on the other hand, can expect to go 1 million to 4 million miles between serious accidents.

In 2016 at least, self-driving cars were between 500 and 1,000 times worse than American adults in terms of accident rates. For reference, the riskiest drivers, teenage boys, are only three times worse than the U.S. norm.

I, like many others, am excited about the future of self-driving cars. However, it would be irresponsible for any city council to approve such testing without knowing, and making public, what the actual accident rate would be for vehicles without a safety driver on board.

Alonso Vera

Los Altos

Resident votes for closer polling place

You wouldn’t believe that within Los Altos there could be voter suppression, would you?

Some idiot decides that we, exactly next door to the fire station polling place, cannot vote there, even though it is fully staffed as a polling place. We have to traipse up to Hillview Community Center!

So who, I wonder, gets to vote at the fire station? Not our neighborhood?

I’ve always liked the idea of voting at a polling place. To me, it feels more like the “patriotic duty” that we honor than just dropping the thing in a mailbox.

We will keep “traipsing” if we have to, but someone ought to figure out better mapping!

Marv Emerling

Los Altos

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