PHOENIX – A new report by police in Tempe, Arizona, said that March’s fatal collision of an Uber self-driving car with a pedestrian could have been avoided if the vehicle’s operator hadn’t been watching a video on her cell phone.
According to the official document published Thursday night, the driver, identified as Rafaela Vasquez, was “distracted or looking down for seven of the 22 minutes preceding the collision” with a homeless woman who was pushing her bicycle across the road outside a designated crossing.
Police said that Vasquez made no calls nor texted any messages in the moments prior to the accident, but did say that she was using apps on her cell phone like the digital content platforms Hulu and Netflix.
According to Hulu, she was watching streaming content for some three hours the night of the accident, and was supposedly watching the music contest “The Voice” when the deadly accident occurred.
The report said Vasquez was responsible for taking control of the vehicle in case of an emergency, adding that if she had paid attention to the road she could have stopped the car 42 feet (12 meters) before the place where 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was crossing the road.
Tempe police presented the case before the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office so it could study the possibility of bringing charges against Vasquez.
A police camera video shows Vasquez telling cops soon after the accident that she hadn’t noticed the presence of the victim until the moment the car hit her.
After the fatal accident, Uber canceled its self-driving operation in Arizona and reached a legal agreement with the victim’s family.