On July 4, 2024, a Phoenix police officer pulled over a Waymo driverless car after it was observed swerving and failing to maintain its lane. The incident, which was captured on body-worn camera footage, highlights the challenges and complexities of self-driving technology and its interactions with law enforcement.

The Incident

At approximately 10:30 p.m., the Waymo car was traveling eastbound on Bell Road near 19th Avenue when it was spotted by a patrol officer. The officer reported that the car was swerving within its lane and appeared to be having difficulty staying centered. After following the vehicle for a short distance, the officer initiated a traffic stop.

Initial Interactions

When the officer approached the Waymo car, he noticed that there was no one in the driver's seat. He tapped on the window, and the car did not respond. The officer then activated his lights and sirens, prompting the car to pull over to the side of the road.

Upon approaching the vehicle again, the officer observed that there was indeed no human driver present. There were two passengers in the car, who explained that the car was in self-driving mode.

Police Investigation

The police officer requested that the passengers exit the vehicle. He then conducted a closer inspection of the Waymo car, checking for any signs of impairment or malfunction. The car appeared to be operating normally, with no apparent technical issues.

The passengers provided the officer with documentation from Waymo, confirming that the car was authorized to operate in autonomous mode in the designated area. The officer also checked the car's computer system, which showed that it had been in driverless mode at the time of the stop.

Decision and Resolution

After consulting with supervisors and reviewing the available evidence, the police officer determined that no citation would be issued to the Waymo car or its passengers. He concluded that the car's swerving was a temporary aberration and that there was no evidence of a safety violation.

The officer provided the passengers with a brief explanation of the traffic stop and the reason for his initial concern. The passengers thanked the officer for his professionalism and understanding.

Impact and Implications

The incident in Phoenix raises important questions about the role of law enforcement in overseeing self-driving vehicles. As driverless technology becomes more prevalent, police officers will need to adapt their training and procedures to effectively handle interactions with these vehicles.

The lack of a human driver in the Waymo car presented a unique challenge for the officer involved. He had to assess the situation based on limited information and make a judgment call without being able to question or interact with a traditional driver.

The incident also highlights the need for ongoing communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the autonomous vehicle industry. Clear guidelines and protocols need to be established to ensure that self-driving vehicles operate safely and responsibly, and that police officers are equipped to respond to incidents involving these vehicles in a timely and effective manner.


The Phoenix incident serves as a reminder that the integration of self-driving technology into our transportation system presents both opportunities and challenges. By fostering collaboration, establishing clear guidelines, and embracing innovation, we can harness the potential of this technology while ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities.

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