The woman behind the wheel of the Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a homeless woman in March was watching a Hulu show on her phone in what police investigators in Tempe, Arizona say was an “entirely avoidable accident.”
Reuters reports that Hulu records police obtained showed “safety driver” Rafaela Vasquez was watching the talent show “The Voice” for 42 minutes up until the car struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, who was pushing her bicycle across a four-lane highway away from the crosswalk.
In a 318-page report that included photos, videos and audio files, the Tempe Police Department released Thursday in response to a public records request, investigators said the driver repeatedly looked down and not at the road, looking up only half a second before the car struck Herzberg.
Police reviewed video from inside the car as well as the Hulu records. The report said the driver was “distracted and looking down” for seven of the 22 minutes preceding the crash.
Police released this video of the interior and exterior of the Uber vehicle prior to the crash. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtTB8hTgHbM
Uber, which has said it is doing a top-to-bottom safety review, forbids drivers from using a mobile device while the self-driving cars are on a public road, a rue Vasquez clearly violated.
Vasquez, who may face charges of vehicle manslaughter, had previously told federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board that she had not been using her phone at the time of the crash.
The accident threw a monkey-wrench into Uber’s self-driving car development. The company ended its testing program in Arizona, but has said it plans to resume testing elsewhere this summer.