Police say Uber driver was watching Hulu before fatal crash

Adjust Comment Print

According to the police report, Vasquez was distracted in this way for seven of the almost 22-minutes just prior to the collision. A few days after the crash, police obtained a search warrant for Vasquez's two cellphones and served warrants on three companies that provide streaming services - Hulu, Netflix and Google, which owns YouTube - in an effort to determine if the driver had been watching shows on her phones while driving.

The NTSB report says that Uber's radar and lidar systems spotted Herzberg "about 6 seconds before impact" and that the self-driving system determined 1.3 seconds before the impact that an emergency braking maneuver was necessary.

The police documents also back up previous reports that Uber's self-driving vehicles were unable to perform emergency braking, relying entirely on the human driver to intervene in a unsafe situation.

Without an automatic system, Uber's policy was to rely on the human operator inside the vehicle, but there was no alert that a crash was imminent.

Reuters reported that The Voice was streamed for 42 minutes before the collision.

Uber driver regulations strictly prohibits operators of any kind from using any device while behind the wheel, including phones and smart watches. According to police, she "appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the times that she is looking down". Then, she told investigators that neither her personal nor work phones had been in use at the time.

After the crash, the ride-hailing company said it did a top-to-bottom safety evaluation, reviewing internal processes and safety culture.

More news: Leaked England line-up photo appears to show Sterling is out
More news: Mohamed Salah considering retirement over political controversy with Chechen leader
More news: GOP House rep: Trump 'still 100 percent' behind immigration bill

"You guys know as well as I know that this is going to be an global story", the police supervisor says. She did not look up to see the pedestrian until half a second before the crash.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey later suspended Uber from testing its self-driving cars in Arizona.

The report says that "Vasquez was distracted and looking down for 31% of the 21 minutes and 48 seconds prior to the collision", and that she was "distracted and looking down for 5.2 seconds of the 5.7 seconds prior to impact". After the incident which took place in March, Uber announced that they are closing self-driving auto operation in Arizona. Police say Vasquez did not make any calls or texts in the moments leading up to the crash.

Both Vasquez and Uber could still face civil liability in the case, Uber for potentially negligent hiring, training and supervision, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of SC law professor who closely follows autonomous vehicles.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's office because of a conflict, and that office could not be reached late Thursday.

Although no verdict has been made public, the evidence we know so far sure seems to show that Vasquez was watching TV and not giving the road her full and undivided attention, which is surely a factor in the crash.

The spokesperson added that any physical mobile device usage while the vehicle is on the road is a fireable offense.