Some of the fears associated with driverless, autonomous cars is that they might actually speed through roads, with nary a care for other cars or humans. The case with Google‘s self-driving cars, however, might actually be the exact opposite. It might actually be traveling too slow, which might actually be just as bothersome. As the Mountain View traffic police found out, a Google car cruising, if you could call it that, at 25 mph no small amount of traffic backup. Fortunately for Google, it was actually operating under the law.
Going too fast or going too slow, it seems that Google might be caught in a dilemma. For safety reasons, of course, it has to roll on roads at a slow speed, 24 mph to be precise in this case. As anyone driving can imagine, that can feel excruciatingly slow, even in a zone with a 35 mph speed limit.
That is exactly the situation one of Google’s cars found itself in. Almost like a scene from a practical joke reel, a Mountain View traffic officer noticed traffic build up behind a slow-moving car. Upon approaching, he realized that it was one of ’em strange self-driving cars. He did pull the car over and then contacted Google operators to iron things out. It seemed that the car might have been in violation of California Vehicle Code 22400 (a), which prohibits anyone from impeding or blocking the movement of traffic by driving too slowly.
Luckily for Google, the law was also on its side. That same code does make an exception “unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation, because of a grade, or in compliance with law.” In this case, Google was actually complying with the law that reqiures it not to drive at more than 25 mph and only on roads with a 35 mph speed limit. The El Camino Real road where it was pulled over was one such 35 mph zone.
Google proudly boasts that in the 1.2 million miles its self-driving cars have traveled, it has never received a ticket. At least not yet.