Uber Driver Charged In Fatal Self-Driving Crash

National & World

NBC Newschannel

An Uber “safety driver” has been indicted for negligent homicide after a self-driving car crash left a woman dead in Tempe in 2018. KPNX’s Bianca Buono reports.

(KPNX/NBC Newschannel) – An Uber driver has been indicted for negligent homicide after a self-driving car crash left a woman dead in Tempe, Arizona in 2018.

A grand jury indicted Rafaela Vasquez, 46, on one count of negligent homicide in the death of Elaine Herzberg.

Vasquez was the “safety driver” behind the wheel at the time the self-driving Uber hit and killed Herzberg, a pedestrian who was walking her bike across Mill Avenue in Tempe in March of 2018.

At the arraignment Tuesday Vasquez pleaded not guilty. 

The car was on a test route in Tempe with Vasquez behind the wheel when the car slammed into Herzberg, who was outside of a crosswalk, killing her. 

Data from the system showed the self-driving software saw the pedestrian about six seconds before hitting her, classifying her as an unknown object, as a vehicle, then as a bicycle with several potential paths of future travel.

The system determined that emergency braking was required, but the emergency braking maneuver is not enabled when the car is in self-driving mode, according to the report. Uber told investigators this is meant to reduce the likelihood of erratic stops on public roads. 

A National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash noted inward-facing cameras showed the driver looking down several times immediately before the crash. According to a Tempe police report, she was streaming an episode of “The Voice” on Hulu at the time.

Read more: https://bit.ly/3mqnT3a

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