Uber Technologies Inc. is not criminally liable in a March 2018 accident in Tempe, Arizona, in which one of the company’s cars collided and killed a pedestrian, prosecutors said on March 5.
The Yavapai County prosecutor said in a letter released that “there was no basis for criminal liability” for Uberbut that the backup driver, Rafaela Vasquez, should be referred to Tempe police for further investigation.
Prosecutors’ decision not to file criminal charges eliminates a potential headache for the company running through them when company executives try to sort out a long list of federal investigations, lawsuits, and other legal risks before a highly initial public offering. anticipated for this year.
The accident involved a Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle that Uber was using to test self-driving technology. The fatal accident was a setback from which the company has not yet recovered; Your autonomous vehicle test drops dramatically.
The accident was also a blow to the entire autonomous vehicle industry and led other companies to temporarily halt their testing. The scrutiny has been based on nascent technology, which presents deadly risks but has minimal oversight by regulators.
According to a June police report, Vasquez, Uber’s backup driver, could face charges of vehicular manslaughter. Vasquez has not previously commented and could not be immediately reached on Tuesday.
Based on video recorded inside the car, records collected from the online entertainment service Hulu, and other evidence, police said last year that Vasquez was looking down and broadcasting an episode of the television show “The Voice. “by phone until almost time for the crash. The driver looked for half a second before hitting Elaine Herzberg, 49, who died of her injuries.
Police called the incident “totally avoidable.”
The Yavapai County Prosecutor’s Office, which reviewed the case at the request of the Maricopa County where the accident occurred, did not explain why it found no criminal liability against Uber. Yavapai referred the case to Maricopa, requesting additional expert analysis of the video to determine what the driver should have seen that night.
An Uber spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are still investigating.
The Maricopa County Prosecutor’s Office had no immediate comment Tuesday.
In December, Uber confidentially filed an initial public offering and is expected to seek a valuation of up to $ 120 billion. Its self-driving program, which costs hundreds of millions of dollars and is yet to generate income, is likely to come under scrutiny from investors.
The company that arrived, which lost about $ 3.3 billion last year, is betting on a transition to the cars they drive to eliminate the need to pay drivers.
At a conference on autonomous vehicles held in Silicon Valley last week, industry leaders lamented the loss of trust from the public, regulators and investors that lingers a year after Uber’s crash. There is no consensus on safety standards for the industry.
In March 2018, Arizona authorities suspended Uber’s ability to test its automatic cars. Uber also voluntarily stopped its entire self-driving car testing program and left Arizona.
In December, Uber resumed limited automatic car testing in Pittsburgh, restricting cars to a small circuit that they can only drive in good weather. The company is testing with two people in the front seat and, more strictly, monitors safety drivers. The company also said it made improvements to the vehicles’ self-driving software last year.
Uber hasn’t resumed testing in San Francisco or Toronto, where it previously had programs.
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