The backup safety driver of the Uber self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian in March was watching a TV show on her phone right up until the fatal crash, a police report on the incident released Thursday says.

The crash report, released from the police department in Tempe, Arizona, says the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, was repeatedly looking down at her phone while monitoring the self-driving car. She only looked up a half-second before the vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

Records from streaming service Hulu obtained by the Tempe Police Department show that Vasquez was streaming the TV show “The Voice” for 42 minutes leading up to the crash. Vasquez stopped the show at 9:59pm, which the report says “coincides with the approximate time of the collision.”

Video from inside the vehicle reviewed by police shows Vasquez continually glancing down at her phone while monitoring the vehicle. Vasquez had previously told investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board that she had not been on her personal or business cell phone until after the crash occurred.

Tempe Police say the crash could have been “entirely avoidable” if Vasquez’s eyes had been on the road. As a result, she could potentially be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors in Maricopa County are still examining whether to bring charges against Vasquez. Earlier investigations have also shown that the vehicle’s autonomous system did not detect and register Herzberg as an object in the road to avoid.

Uber requires a backup safety driver to monitor its vehicles that are in self-driving mode. Although the car was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash, federal investigators have found that Uber had disabled the emergency brakes in the self-driving car, and less than a second after hitting Herzberg, Vasquez began manually braking.

In the wake of the crash, believed to be the first of its kind involving a self-driving vehicle, Uber’s autonomous vehicle program is struggling to survive. The ride-sharing company voluntarily paused its self-driving operations in all cities directly after the crash. Shortly after, the state of Arizona revoked the company’s ability to test its autonomous vehicles in the state, which was once a tentpole location for the startup’s self-driving program. Uber also let its self-driving permit lapse in California following the fatal incident.

At the end of May, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that once safety tests are completed on the self-driving cars, the company plans to relaunch the autonomous program in coming days, noting that Uber self-driving vehicles “will get back on the road over the summer.”

H/T: Reuters

Featured image by JasonDoiy/Getty Images.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.