Editor’s Note: As part of our “Why I Ride with Waymo” series, we’ve been checking in with members of our early rider program to learn more about their experience using Waymo. We previously profiled Lilla, and next up is Samantha, who tells us how Waymo has become a part of her family’s everyday life.
Tell us a bit about you and your family!
I’m Samantha from Tempe, Arizona. I met and married my husband, T’Shaka in November 2000, not too long after moving to the Phoenix area from Michigan, and we have two kids, Kyla, who’s 17, and T’Shaka II (TJ), who’s 12. We’re all members of the early rider program and use Waymo to get around every day.
For the past 11 years, I’ve worked for Downtown Phoenix Inc. as part of a team originally working to revitalize downtown. Now, we’re focused on cultivating and helping downtown continue to grow. I lead our Operations Department, which oversees programs in safety, hospitality, transportation, parking, placemaking, and homeless outreach.
What’s something you and your family like about riding with Waymo?
Driving stresses me out, so I’m happier riding with Waymo. It’s much more peaceful when you don’t have to be the driver. My kids, especially our 17 year old, like the freedom it provides. If she wants to go somewhere, she calls Waymo instead of asking for a ride. TJ likes the technology and ingenuity of the car and how cool it is to ride in one.
What has been your family’s favorite ride so far?
We started out the program driving with a Waymo employee at the wheel, so my husband loved his first ride with no one in the driver’s seat. He wasn’t nervous at all, and it was a great experience. His only complaint was that the ride was too short!
We’ve heard from riders that the Waymo driver has its own unique personality, the same way human drivers do. Have you noticed anything specific about our driver’s personality?
Waymo is the most mindful driver. Safety is number one, and that is so appreciated.
Has riding in our cars changed your opinion on self-driving technology?
Yes, in a way. I was a fan of self-driving vehicles (or the idea of them) before we became early riders. Now having seen how capable the software is, I look forward to when even more people can ride with Waymo so they don’t have to drive at all.
For me, humans cause accidents. I can’t wait for safer roads for all modes of transportation — vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters. I also want to see what impact self-driving technology has on traffic, the environment, and any other efficiencies it lends to our communities.
Anything else you want to share about your experience with Waymo?
This has truly been a memorable experience for my entire family. One day, our kids will get to say, “I remember when I was a teenager, we got to ride in some of the first self driving vehicles!” We feel like in some small way we made a contribution to this new way of life.
Our early rider program continues to take applications; if you live in the area, drop us a line.