Uber driver was watching tv show prior to fatal crash, police say

Uber driver was watching tv show prior to fatal crash, police say

Uber driver was watching tv show prior to fatal crash, police say

County prosecutors have received a copy of the police report, which was released on 21 June following a freedom of information request.

She glanced up just half a second before the vehicle knocked down Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was crossing the street at night.

Herzberg was crossing the street with her bicycle when she was hit by the Uber on March 19. The Volvo was traveling at about 40 miles per hour in the lane nearest the curb and never braked.

If true, the allegations that Uber's safety driver was watching Hulu are harrowing, and Vasquez will likely face prosecution. Had she been doing her job, the crash could have been "entirely avoidable", police say. The 318-page report found that Rafaela Vasquez, the 44-year-old driver, was frequently looking down and even smiling and laughing at what appears to be a cellphone streaming an episode of the talent search show, The Voice.

Dashcam footage shows her looking down, clearly not paying attention to the road. The company is reviewing internal processes, including its safety driver training practices.

The company prohibits the use of any mobile device by safety drivers while the self-driving cars are on a public road.

Uber has fired several safety drivers for breaking the mobile device policy, the spokesperson said.

The report also noted that Uber's cars did not have a mechanism for alerting drivers about potential dangers. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from continuing its tests of self-driving cars after Herzberg was run over. Her role - a legally required one, as per the terms of Uber's autonomous testing permit in Arizona - was to monitor the car's behavior and be ready to step in should the vehicle fail to act safely or appropriately. Vasquez manually hit the brakes after hitting the woman. At the time, Uber was testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

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As a result, Arizona suspended Uber's self-driving vehicles from operating within the state: the company also launched an in-depth safety review in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.

A video of the moments before the crash shows Vasquez looking toward her right knee while occasionally looking up and around.

Vasquez told NTSB investigators that she was "monitoring the self-driving system interface" at the time of the crash, but data from Hulu suggests that wasn't the case.

The report found that Vasquez "was distracted and looking down" for close to seven of the almost 22 minutes prior to the collision.

Uber has hired former National Transportation Safety Board chair Christopher Hart as an adviser on the company's overall safety culture. As of the time of writing, Uber has not commented on the findings.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's office because of a conflict, and that office could not be reached late Thursday.

NTSB investigators asked Vasquez about her downward glances in a post-crash interview.

On a body camera video the night of the crash, police gathered at the scene quickly realized that they were dealing with a big story because an autonomous vehicle was involved.

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