Driver in fatal self-driving Uber crash was reportedly watching ‘The Voice’

A police report released Thursday on the deadly self-driving Uber accident in March reportedly revealed that the female backup driver had been watching “The Voice” prior to the crash.

The report from police in Tempe, Arizona, indicated that the crash could have been prevented had the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, not been watching the show, The Associated Press reported.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was killed in the March 18 crash – believed to be the first of its kind – after being struck by the autonomous vehicle while walking outside of the crosswalk, authorities said at the time.

Vasquez was reportedly watching “The Voice” via an online streaming service in the roughly 45 minutes prior to the accident.

“This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted,” the report said, according to The Associated Press.

Dash camera video viewed by the outlet showed that Vasquez had been looking down towards her right knee for about four or five seconds before the crash. She reportedly looked up a half second before striking Herzberg as the Volvo was traveling about 44 miles per hour.

Vasquez told police that the victim “came out of nowhere” and that she didn’t see her prior to the collision. But officers calculated that had Vasquez been paying attention, she could have reacted 143 feet before impact and brought the SUV to a stop about 42.6 feet before hitting Herzberg.

Review of the video reportedly revealed that Vasquez peered down roughly 200 times over the course of 11.8 miles.

“Sometimes, her face appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down,” the report said, according to The Associated Press. “Her hands are not visible in the frame of the video during these times.”

Another video of the incident, which had previously been released, also depicted the driver peering down in the moments before Herzberg was hit.

An Uber spokeswoman said in a prepared statement to The Associated Press on Friday morning that the company is cooperating with investigators while it does an internal safety review.

“We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles. We plan to share more on the changes we’ll make to our program soon,” the statement said.

Use of a mobile device while an autonomous vehicle is moving is a fireable offense, and “this is emphasized on an ongoing basis,” the statement said.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *