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Uber's Self-Driving Operator Involved in Fatality Crash

Photo of Imrana Manzanares

In 2018, Elaine Herzberg, then 49 years old, was hit by a car as she wheeled her bicycle across the road. An investigation revealed that the car's safety driver, Ms. Vasquez, had been watching an episode of the television show The Voice at the time of the accident. At the time, Uber was testing their self-driving technology.

Ms. Vasquez had the ability to take over control of the car during an emergency, and was sitting in the driver's seat. Dash cam footage showed Ms. Vasquez was looking down and away from the road for several seconds just before the crash. The car was driving at a speed of 39 miles per hour. Human error was mostly to blame for the accident, according to investigations by local police and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The NTSB found that the accident was caused by failure of the operator to monitor their surroundings and the vehicle's automated system. They further noted that Ms. Vasquez spent 34% of the time looking at her cell phone. Local police called the fatality as "entirely avoidable."

When someone is injured or dies in a collision, financial recovery may be available. Such recovery is particularly important when permanent, life changing injuries are incurred. It is important to contact someone who understands the intricacies of the injured party's right to recover.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884. Abraham Watkins offers a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue such claims.

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