Like other companies that are testing their self-driving cars on public roads, Uber also has a human safety driver behind the wheel at all times. One of the company’s autonomous cars in Tempe, Arizona was involved in a crash this March which led to the death of a pedestrian. A new report released by the police mentions that Rafaela Vasquez, the safety driver, was watching Hulu on her phone just before the accident happened.
Uber’s self-driving car struck 49-year old Elaine Herzberg at 39 mph as she was crossing the street. The car wasn’t able to avoid her and since the safety driver was apparently distracted, she didn’t step in to prevent the accident from happening.
The report by the Tempe Police Department mentions that Vasquez’s Hulu account was watching the show for 42 minutes before the crash. This suggests that Vasquez likely started streaming the show not long after starting the drive.
It goes on to add that the crash was “entirely avoidable” if the safety driver had been paying more attention to the road. No charges have been filed as yet but there’s a possibility that she may face charges of vehicular manslaughter.
The video of the crash that was previously released had Vasquez looking down in front of her just seconds before the crash. She had initially told investigators that she was “monitoring the self-driving system interface” which is displayed on the iPad that’s mounted on the car’s center console.