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Uber Safety Driver in Arizona Autonomous Car Crash Had TV Show On

The safety driver during a test of an autonomous vehicle in which the car hit and killed a woman had a TV show streaming on her phone shortly before the crash earlier this year in Arizona, according to police.

Reuters reported that the Tempe Police report said the driver repeatedly looked down before the crash, in which the car hit and killed Elaine Herzberg on March 18, according to a story on the police report by the news agency Reuters. The autonomous car was being tested, and the safety driver was supposed to be a backup.

The crash dealt a blow to Uber, which has been aggressive in pushing for autonomous cars to use for its ride hailing service.  Uber stopped testing driverless cars in Arizona after the crash, thought it plans to begin testing elsewhere this summer – if it can get approval from communities now more likely to be skeptical of the safety of the cars. 

The police report cited by Reuters said records from streaming service Hulu showed the driver’s account was playing “The Voice” TV show for about 42 minutes on the night of the crash, right up until about the time of the crash. The report also said the crash would have been avoidable if the safety driver had been paying attention. She could face vehicular manslaughter charges.

LedeTree is not naming the woman, because neither she nor her attorney could be reached for comment.

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