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Uber Accident Investigation Continues

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July 20, 2019
Edward Smith

Uber Accident Investigation Continues

An Uber accident that happened in March 2018 is the focus of a new investigation by police. Recent testing was done close to the accident site in Tempe, Arizona, where a pedestrian was killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle with a backup driver on board last year. An investigation by the Tempe Police in 2018 concluded that the accident was avoidable. In March, the prosecutor’s office said that Uber was not at fault. Now, culpability is directed toward the backup driver, Rafaela Vasquez, 45. The Maricopa County attorney’s office verified that prosecutors asked for additional information before making a decision to charge the backup driver. 

New Investigation

The crash was recorded by cameras in and out of the Uber vehicle. Prosecutors asked for new tests to be done on the video itself. The test will compare the driver’s reaction at various points along the way. Prosecutors said they needed this data to decide whether or not a conviction would be likely if Vasquez is charged in the Uber accident. 

What an Injury Lawyer Can Do for You

When a loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident, the grief and uncertainty are often overwhelming. Our firm recognizes the many difficulties the family faces. Since the deceased can no longer speak for themselves, our investigators examine the accident scene, review police reports for accuracy, and interview witnesses to learn the exact cause of the pedestrian’s death. Once this information is accumulated, our legal team can determine if negligence was involved. If the motorist, whether a backup driver or not, failed to exert their duty of care and contributed to the person’s death, we can prepare a wrongful death lawsuit for the family. While this will not lessen their grief, it can help them with the financial loss they suffered. If you need more information about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, please call us for free and friendly advice.

The 2018 Accident

On March 18, 2018, Elaine Herzberg, 49, crossed Mill Avenue outside of a crosswalk pushing a shopping-bag-loaded bicycle and was hit by an Uber self-driving vehicle. The Uber, which was in self-driving mode and traveling at about 38 mph in a 35 mph speed zone, was manned by Vasquez, whose job it was to take over in an emergency. The biggest question is what was Vasquez doing in the moments leading up to the crash. She told police she was not using her cellphone. However, she was streaming a television show called “The Voice.” She was looking at the show on her phone prior to the crash. The dash camera showed that she was looking down at her lap five seconds before the accident occurred. She looked up just one-half second before impact. 

Distracted Driving in the Uber Accident

It only takes a few seconds for a distracted driver to cause an accident. In the Uber accident, Vasquez could have begun to stop 143 feet before hitting Herzberg. She would have brought her Volvo SUV to a stop over 40 feet before the impact.  

The Importance of Investigation

At the time of the crash, the chief of police in Tempe said that Vasquez stated the pedestrian walked out in front of the Uber self-driving vehicle. Investigators at the site found the Uber did not brake. It was concluded that no vehicle would have been able to avoid the accident since videos showed the pedestrian entering the roadway quickly from a shadowed area. But, what if the driver was not paying attention as noted above? Without this information, the accident might have been wrongly blamed on the pedestrian. 

Sacramento Self-Driving Vehicle Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Uber car accident lawyer. More self-driving cars and trucks are on the highways as companies test expanding their use in the United States. As the numbers increase, so does the potential for accidents. If you’ve been injured or a family member has died in an Uber accident, call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach out to me online if it is more convenient for you. 

I’ve helped numerous residents in the Sacramento area to obtain the compensation they deserve in the past 37 years. Some areas we worked in are all types of car accidents, traumatic injuries, and pedestrian injury.

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