Cruise’s driverless cars block traffic for hours in San Francisco

Nearly 20 driverless cars caused a major kerfuffle on the corner of San Francisco’s Gough and Fulton streets Tuesday night, the San Francisco Examiner reported earlier this week. 

According to local Reddit users, Cruise’s self-driving cars inexplicably stood still and blocked traffic for two hours, making the area completely impassable. Eventually, the San Francisco-based tech company’s employees had to physically move the cars off the street themselves. 

Sean Sinha, a bouncer at Smuggler’s Cove, posted multiple photos of the incident on Reddit showing clusters of the cars just sitting in the middle of the road. “The first thing I say to my coworker is that they’re getting together to murder us. It was a pretty surreal event,” he posted. “Humans had to come and manually take the cars away. Cruise should get fined to sh-t for blocking the street off for so long. They even made it so the street sweeper couldn’t hit an entire block.” According to the outlet, the cars weren’t taken off the road until midnight. 

In May of this year, Wired reported that Cruise vehicles obstructed a fire truck responding to an emergency in San Francisco. The car reportedly sat in traffic until a garbage truck driver rushed over to move it himself, clearing the way for the fire department. And in April, Twitter users posted videos of a Cruise vehicle unexpectedly speeding away from cops on Clement Street

These types of incidents are not terribly uncommon – and city officials suspect that there will be more in the future. Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter of the San Francisco Fire Department says that the “biggest issue” he’s seen is driverless cars failing to yield to emergency vehicles. Subsequently, they block the road, obstruct personnel, and delay response times. “What we’re seeing is the vehicles coming to a stop while we’re trying to move,” he said. “So again, these are the things that we will bring to the company, no matter what the brand name is on the side of the autonomous vehicle, and let them know that this did occur.” 

Following the traffic obstruction on Gough Street and a similar incident that allegedly occurred at midnight that same evening, a Cruise spokesperson provided the following statement to the Examiner: “We had an issue earlier this week that caused some of our vehicles to cluster together. While it was resolved and no passengers were impacted, we apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced.” 

Sean Sinha and the San Francisco Police Department did not respond to SFGATE’s request for comment.