Safety driver involved in fatal self-driving Uber crash was watching Hulu

Elaine Herzberg was wheeling her bike across the road when she was hit by the Volvo which was being driven by Rafaela Vasquez

The backup driver in a fatal accident between a self-driving Uber and a pedestrian in Arizona last March may have been watching an episode of NBC's "The Voice" on her phone at the time of the crash.

This information comes from a massive release of reports, photos and 911 calls from the Tempe Police Department, the Arizona Republic reports.

It suggested the driver was distracted and streaming talent show The Voice on her phone around the time of the "avoidable" accident in March.

A 318-page report from the Tempe Police Department, released late on Thursday in response to a public records request, said the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, repeatedly looked down and not at the road, glancing up just a half second before the auto hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the street at night.

This revealed the Uber vehicle had about six seconds to react after spotting Ms Herzberg crossing the road in the dark ahead of it.

The system is disabled while Uber's autonomous cars are under computer control, "to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior", the NTSB report said. She could face charges of manslaughter, reports The Guardian. She stopped watching at 9:59 pm, which the report says "coincides with the approximate time of the collision".

Dashcam footage shows her looking down, clearly not paying attention to the road. "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles", an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo. Instead of the system, Uber relies on the human backup driver to intervene, the report stated.

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The pictures also show front-end damage to the Uber auto.

Uber's self-driving SUV was travelling at under 44mph at the time of the incident and was in autonomous mode.

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

In a span of 11.8 miles behind the wheel, Vasquez is said to have looked down 204 times toward her right knee and that in those 22 minutes she had her head down for almost 7 minutes. It continues testing the vehicles in other markets like San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

"She appears to be looking down at the area near her right knee at various points in the video", the report reads. A preliminary US National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash, released in May, put the time of the collision at 21:58. Of the almost 22 minutes that elapsed during that distance, Vasquez was looking down for 6 minutes and 47 seconds, the newspaper reported. But we also shouldn't let Vasquez be the scapegoat for an Uber self-driving test that by all accounts was insufficient and unsafe to be testing on public roads, regardless of who was behind the wheel. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our program soon". Former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart is now a safety consultant for Uber.

This case is now in the hands of the Yavapai County Attorney's Office for review. Her job was to look at the road and prepare for any emergencies, Uber confirmed.

An officer who identifies himself as supervisor of the unit that investigates fatal crashes is seen asking a man who appears to be an Uber supervisor about getting video from the SUV and whether Uber's lawyers have been contacted.

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