Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Driver was 'streaming TV show' just before self-driving car crash

Driver was 'streaming TV show' just before self-driving car crash

An Uber driver in a self-driving auto was streaming television until moments before the vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian, according to police.

Police said Uber driver Rafaela Vasquez was repeatedly looking down and not at the road and only glanced up in the instant right before her vehicle struck Herzberg.

"The vehicle was in auto-drive", Rafaela Vasquez, 44, is heard telling police on an officer's body camera.

"You guys know as well as I know that this is going to be an worldwide story", the police supervisor says. "I know I hit her".

Vasquez could not immediately be reached for comment and Reuters could not locate her attorney.

She was watching "The Voice" from 9:16 p.m. until 9:59 p.m. Police believe the crash happened while she was streaming that show.

The crash is said to have occurred about 1 minute later at 10 p.m. on March 18. Here's what it won't do.

Rafaela Vasquez, repeatedly looked down and not at the road, glancing up just a half second before the vehicle hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, according to Tempe Police Department, in Arizona.

"Before impact, Rafael is looking at the area of her right knee for a notable length of time".

At the same time, Vasquez was convicted of unsworn falsification committed in 1999, meaning she made a false statement to a public officials, and received a concurrent one year sentence.

The analysis showed that nine video segments from dashboard cameras in the vehicle covered 11.8 miles prior to the crash. She had a startled look on her face about the time of the impact.

The police report sad Vasquez had been watching a TV show in the moments before she struck Herzberg.

As Uber's safety driver, Vasquez is supposed to take control if the self-driving system fails or if the vehicle risks endangering others.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office referred the case to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office because of a conflict.

Cristina Perez Hesano, a lawyer for Herzberg's daughter and husband, and Pat McGroder, an attorney representing Herzberg's mother, father and son, declined to comment on the police report.

It also noted that the roads were dry and level, and that there was no apparent medical condition that would have affected the driver at the time of the collision.

Vasquez had also told police she had her hands "hovering" over the wheel.

As police previously said, the vehicle showed no evidence of braking before hitting Herzberg.

Elaine Herzberg, the pedestrian killed in the incident, was faulted for "unlawfully crossing the road at a location other than a marked crosswalk" in the police report.

Vasquez reportedly told federal investigators that she had been monitoring the self-driving interface in the vehicle and that neither her personal nor business phones were in use until after the crash.

This is the latest development in the ongoing investigation into the fatal crash.

You've probably seen the video released by Tempe police, but it's available below.

"You guys know as well as I do that this is going to be, like, an global story, " he says.

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