Uber is Not Criminally Charged in Fatal Tempe Self-Driving Car Collision
In Tempe, Arizona on March 18, 2018, a self-driving Volvo sport utility vehicle being tested by Uber hit and killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she was walking her bicycle across the street that evening. A pedestrian injury lawyer Phoenix AZ can advise a collision victim or his or her family about potential claims for injuries and damages.
The vehicle was in autonomous mode while traveling about 40 miles per hour. The collision is believed to be the first pedestrian death as a result of self-driving vehicles.
In June of 2018, the Tempe Police Department released a report stating that at the time of the accident the safety driver, who was sitting in the driver’s seat supposedly monitoring the vehicle, was streaming a television show on her phone.
According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the self-driving car had spotted Herzberg 5.6 seconds before impact, however the system was unable to discern whether she was a bicyclist, a pedestrian, or an unknown object, and as a result was unable to determine that she was headed into the vehicle’s path. Further, Uber’s self-driving system did not include a provision for detecting jaywalking pedestrians.
After reviewing the case, the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office said that they found “no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation.” The Yavapai County Attorney further stated that an “expert analysis” is needed to “closely match what (and when) the person sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle would or should have seen that night given the vehicle’s speed, lighting conditions, and other relevant factors.” A pedestrian injury lawyer Phoenix AZ an investigate fault, obtain witness statements and consult with an accident reconstructionist.
The NTSB Chairman stated that during the crash, Uber had deactivated the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system, relying on the driver to brake for the vehicle.
The NTSB stated that the lack of federal and state regulation of self-driving cars, Uber’s lack of safety procedures and inadequate oversight of their safety drivers, as well as the distracted safety driver, were the main causes of the accident. Further, the board utilized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as well as state governments, for not regulating the testing of such vehicles on public roads.
NTSB recommends that the NHSTA require companies who are testing self-driving vehicles to turn in reports of their testing for evaluation, allowing the NHSTA to ensure that companies have the proper safety features in place, including monitoring vehicle operators during testing.
The NTSB also suggested that states require companies to turn in applications to test their technology on public roads. The application would require companies to have a risk management plan and countermeasures in place to attempt to prevent crashes.
A pedestrian lawyer Phoenix, AZ should be consulted following a crash where serious injuries occur, the court process can be explained, such as discovery and possible depositions, how long it may take, the risks and costs of litigation. The consultation should be without charge, there should be no fees or costs unless a settlement is obtained. Contact the office of Paul Englander, PLC today.