According to a police report released by the Tempe Police Department Thursday night, the deadly self-driving Uber crash back in March was "entirely avoidable". Vasquez was appeared to laugh or smirk during moments when she was looking towards her knee, the report added.
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 vehicle hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the street at night.
The police report said the vehicle was in motion for 21 minutes and 48 seconds and Vasquez' eyes were averted from the roadway for 6 minutes and 47.2 seconds. Even if Vasquez was being fully negligent - and the documents do seem to show that - the details about Uber's self-driving test program that have emerged since the crash show that the company bears at least as much responsibility for the fatality as any safety driver, negligent or not.
Police said that records obtained from Hulu, an online service for streaming television shows and films, showed Vasquez's account was playing the talent show "The Voice" on the night of the crash for about 42 minutes.
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In the almost 22 minutes leading up to the crash, Vasquez wasn't looking at the road for six and a half of them ― about 32 percent of the time ― police found. The company now says it will happen sometime this summer, indicating the top-to-bottom safety review and investigation into the Tempe crash is taking longer than expected. "We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles", an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo. Uber employs drivers to sit behind the wheel and take over in the event of an emergency.
David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis safety at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, says the Arizona crash shows that Uber's approach is unsafe.
Uber's self-driving Volvo SUV was travelling at around 70 kilometres per hour.
The crash dealt Uber a major setback in its efforts to develop self-driving cars, and the company ended its autonomous vehicle testing programme in Arizona after the incident.
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The report says police initially determined that Vasquez was not impaired after giving her a field test.
The fatality prompted the ride-hailing giant to suspend all road testing of self-driving vehicles in areas including Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
The incident - which grounded Uber's self-driving auto fleet as the company began an investigation into the safety of its vehicles - was "entirely avoidable" law enforcement have suggested. Of the almost 22 minutes that elapsed during that distance, Vasquez was looking down for 6 minutes and 47 seconds. Uber declined to comment. They revealed that she was enjoying NBC's series The Voice on her phone until the time of the fatal accident in March. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our programme soon". Authorites are investigating the cause of the crash. Former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart is now a safety consultant for Uber.
The Yavapai County Attorney's Office hasn't set a deadline for deciding whether to bring charges, said Penny Cramer, assistant to County Attorney Sheila Polk.
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National Transportation Safety Board investigators examining the Volvo that was involved in the crash.