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Uber not criminally liable for driverless vehicle crash

Uber not criminally liable for driverless vehicle crash

Safety investigators examine a self-driving Uber vehicle involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona. Picture: Reuters. Tempe, Arizona – Uber Technologies is not criminally liable for a March 2018 crash in Tempe, Arizona, in which one of the company’s self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The Yavapai County Attorney said in a letter made public that there was “no basis for criminal liability” for Uber, but that the back-up driver, Rafaela Vasquez, should be referred to the Tempe police for additional investigation.

Prosecutors’ decision not to pursue criminal charges removes one potential headache for the ride-hailing company as the company’s executives try to resolve a long list of federal investigations, lawsuits and other legal risks ahead of a hotly anticipated initial public offering this year.

The crash involved a Volvo XC90 SUV that Uber was using to test self-driving technology. The fatal accident was a setback from which the company has yet to recover; its autonomous vehicle testing remains dramatically reduced.

The accident was also a blow to the entire autonomous vehicle industry and led other companies to temporarily halt their testing. Scrutiny has mounted on the nascent technology, which presents fatal risks but has minimal oversight from regulators.

Vasquez, the Uber back-up driver, could face charges of vehicular manslaughter, according to a police report in June. Vasquez has not previously commented and could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

Based on a video taken inside the car, records collected from online entertainment streaming service Hulu and other evidence, police said last year that Vasquez was looking down and streaming an episode of the television show “The Voice” on a phone until about the time of the crash. The driver looked up a half-second before hitting Elaine Herzberg, 49, who died from her injuries.

Police called the incident “entirely avoidable.”Yavapai […]

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