Uber’s self-driving car ‘safety driver’ charged in fatal 2018 crash
It’s been more than two years since one of Ubers’ self-driving cars went into fully autonomous mode. On Tuesday, local authorities said the driver, or “security driver,” who worked for Uber and was in the car at the time of the accident, had been charged with a number of negligent homicides.
The announcement comes afterLast November it was decided that the main cause of the fatal accident was driver Rafaela Vasquez, 46, who did not monitor the road and was distracted by her cell phone. The board also said Ubers “insufficient safety culture” contributed to the incident.
“Distracted driving is an issue of great concern in our community,” Tempes County Maricopa attorney Allister Adel said in a statement Tuesday. “When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, he is responsible for driving and operating this vehicle safely and in accordance with the law.”
After the fatal crash, Uber temporarily pulled all of its autonomous vehicles off public roads and closed its operations in Arizona. The accident was the first known pedestrian death caused by a vehicle operating in fully autonomous mode. At the time, Uber’s self-drive program was under the control of local police, lawmakers, and federal investigators. It also called inall in all.
Uber resumed testing its autonomous vehicles on the road in December 2018. Since the Arizona accident, he has committed to having two safety drivers in all cars, setting four driving limits for drivers, and developing a safety management system among other measures. The company also published a voluntary self-assessment of safety in 2018.
Vasquez pleaded not guilty on her indictment in the county Supreme Court on Tuesday. The case is expected to be brought to trial in the coming months.
Uber declined to comment on the charges against Vasquez.