Driver Of Self Driving Car Was Watching Movie During Crash That Killed Pedestrian


Police say an Uber driver whose self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian was streaming a television show on her phone when the accident happened. The crash killed Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman who was walking across the street when she was hit by the self-driving car.

A report from the Tempe, Ariz., police obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request described the crash as “entirely avoidable.”

According to records the police received from streaming service Hulu, the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, was watching the show “The Voice.” She could face manslaughter charges.


Uber told the publication that it prohibits drivers from looking down at any device while manning an self-driving car.

The report said that Vasquez was looking down at her phone seven of the 22 minutes prior to crash.

The report also noted that Uber’s cars did not have a mechanism for alerting drivers about potential dangers.

“I was not able to find anywhere in the literature that the self-driving systems alerts the vehicle operator to potential hazards or when they should take manual control of the vehicle to perform an evasive maneuver,” a Tempe detective wrote in the report, according to Gizmodo.

Following the crash in March, Uber suspended all of its self-driving car testing on public roads before laying off 300 of its self-driving vehicle operators in Arizona and permanently shutting down its testing there.

Read more at The Hill.



  1. If it’s self driving, why did she have to look up at all? The whole point is, the driver should just be able to relax and the so-called technology was supposed to take over. Is it any different than when an airplane pilot puts the plane on autopilot?

  2. This was a test of a new and unproven system. The “driver” was supposed to be paying attention and ready to take over instantly if something went wrong.

    Aircraft autopilots are a proven system that have been in use for over 60 years. And the rules do require that one of the pilots stay at the controls at all times.


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