Woman who hit pedestrian in self-driving Uber was watching TV

An Uber driver who struck and killed a pedestrian was watching TV at the time.
An Uber driver who struck and killed a pedestrian was watching TV at the time. Photo credit: Getty

The woman who struck and killed a pedestrian in a self-driving Uber was watching TV at the time of the accident, says a police report.

Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was operating the SUV as the 'human back-up driver' in Tempe, Arizona in March when it collided with 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she walked her bike across the street.

It was the first fatal crash involving a pedestrian and a self-driving vehicle in the US, and Uber temporarily shut down all self-driving operations nationwide.

In a report released on Thursday (local time), it was revealed that Vasquez was watching an episode of talent show The Voice on her phone moments before she hit Ms Herzberg.

Records from streaming service Hulu showed that she stopped playing the episode at 9:59pm, and the crash happened at 10pm.

Police analysis of footage taken inside the vehicle showed that during the 22 minutes before the accident, Vasquez' eyes were off the road for a total of 6 minutes and 47 seconds. The report said she seemed to be looking down at her phone at various points, often laughing or smiling in reaction to the show.

Uber told ABC News that the company has "a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles."

It said violating the policy is a fireable offense for drivers.

Vasquez passed a field sobriety test after the crash.

Police have referred the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for possible charges.

Newshub.