Uber Driver Was Reportedly Watching ‘The Voice’ On Hulu Before Fatal Crash

Uber Driver Was Reportedly Watching ‘The Voice’ On Hulu Before Fatal Crash

Uber Driver Was Reportedly Watching ‘The Voice’ On Hulu Before Fatal Crash

The backup "safety driver" in an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving vehicle that killed a pedestrian in March was streaming the popular television show The Voice on her mobile phone in the moments before the crash, according to police in Arizona, US.

This information comes from a massive release of reports, photos and 911 calls from the Tempe Police Department, the Arizona Republic reports.

Police observed nine video segments from the Uber's dash-cam which showed Vasquez looking down 204 times "with almost all of them having the same eye placement at the lower center console near the area of her right knee".

The deadly collision happened on March 18 near Mill Avenue and Curry when 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was hit and killed by an Uber self-driving auto while she was crossing the street with her bicycle, in what was the first deadly crash involving a self-driving vehicle. Herzberg was not walking in a designated crosswalk. The vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision.

If true, the allegations that Uber's safety driver was watching Hulu are harrowing, and Vasquez will likely face prosecution.

Investigators' tests show that the accident, in March, would have been "entirely avoidable" had Vasquez focused on the road, the report says. According to the report, she watched for about 42 minutes, ending at 9:59 p.m., which "coincides with the approximate time of the collision".

It is not yet clear if Vasquez will be charged - though police submitted their findings to county prosecutors who will make the determination. The company now says it will happen sometime this summer, indicating the top-to-bottom safety review and investigation into the Tempe crash is taking longer than expected.

Speaking to the tech site, an Uber spokesperson said: "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles". Instead, Uber relied on its drivers "to intervene and take action" even though its system doesn't sound a visual or audible alert.

Also released were photographs of Herzberg's damaged bicycle and the vehicle along with police bodycam video that captures the minutes after the crash, including harrowing screams in the background. Uber's self-driving Volvo SUV was travelling at slightly less than 44 miles an hour.

Uber told HuffPost it considers any smartphone or smartwatch use by its backup drivers while the vehicle is in motion a fireable offense, a point emphasized in training.

A camera inside the vehicle pointed at the driver indicated that she didn't look up until half a second before impact.

This image provided by the Tempe Police Department shows the scene where an an Uber SUV hit a woman in Tempe, Ariz on March 18, 2018. She also claimed that neither her personal or business phones were in use at the time of the crash. A preliminary US National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash, released in May, put the time of the collision at 21:58. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our program soon", the statement said.

The Yavapai County Attorney's Office hasn't set a deadline for deciding whether to bring charges, said Penny Cramer, assistant to County Attorney Sheila Polk.

The lengthy document revealed Uber operator Rafaela Vasquez may have been streaming an episode of The Voice on Hulu during the time of the accident, which killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.

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