Safety driver in 2018 Uber crash is charged with negligent homicide

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A silver SUV with a damaged grille parked on the street at night
Zoom in / An Uber car after colliding with Ellen Herzberg.

A grand jury in Arizona has it Accused Rafaela Vasquez, former safety driver for the Uber self-driving car project, on the death of pedestrian Eileen Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona in 2018. Prosecutors I decided not to charge Uber Last year criminally responsible.

The accident happened after dark Well-lit stretch From Mill Street. Herzberg was crossing the multi-lane road with her on her bike when an Uber SUV hit her at 38 mph. Footage from a facing camera shows Vasquez She looks at her lap For more than five seconds immediately before the accident. Officials found that Vasquez was Reality show broadcast call the sound On her phone right before the accident.

Vasquez is charged with negligent homicide, a charge similar to manslaughter with a recommended sentence of 2.5 years. However, the grand jury also charged that the crime was committed with a “dangerous tool” – the car. When negligent homicide is committed with a dangerous weapon or device, the recommended sentence is increased to six years.

“Distracted leadership is an issue of great importance in our society,” Maricopa County attorney He said In a press release. “Whenever a driver sits behind the wheel of a vehicle, it is his responsibility to control that car and operate it safely and in a manner that respects the law.”

The grand jury formally approved the charges in August, and Vásquez was summoned on Tuesday. She was released pending trial with an ankle monitor.

“We shouldn’t hit things every 15,000 miles.”

Senior Uber managers were warned of problems with autonomous technology in the months leading up to the Herzberg crash. In fact, he sent one of the departing engineers on Uber a Scathing email To the head of the Autonomous Driving Program, days before Herzberg’s death.

“A car was damaged roughly every two days in February,” Miller wrote. “We shouldn’t hit things every 15,000 miles.”

Miller cited an incident last week (nine days before Herzberg’s death) when an Uber test vehicle drove across the pavement for several meters.

“In Waymo, I would not have been surprised if the entire fleet were immediately suspended for weeks or more if the vehicle exhibited the same behavior,” Miller wrote. Instead, he reported that the incident had been “basically ignored” until Miller brought it to management’s attention.

Uber escaped criminal liability for the accident.

“After a thorough review of all the evidence presented, this office determined that there was no basis for Uber’s criminal liability,” the attorney general said Wrote.

Uber They reached a quick settlement With the heirs of Herzberg. But the accident shattered Uber’s fledgling autonomous technology program. Uber shut down the program for months, permanently ending testing in Arizona. After nine months of crashing, it’s finally Uber resume Testing on a much smaller scale in Pittsburgh.

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