Uber's backup driver was streaming 'The Voice' minutes before fatal collision

Elaine Herzberg was wheeling her bike across the road when she was hit by the Volvo which was being driven by Rafaela Vasquez

PHOENIX The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" on her phone and looking downward just before fatally striking a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix, according to a police report.

That's according to a more than 300-page investigation released by the Tempe Police Department late Thursday.

Police obtained records from Hulu suggesting that Vasquez was watching "The Voice", a singing talent competition that airs on NBC, just before the crash.

In the moments before the test vehicle hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across a Tempe, Arizona, road, the test driver, Vasquez, was apparently streaming the TV show through Hulu.

Analysis of video taken from the vehicle shows Vasquez looked downward 204 times in the 11.8 miles traveled before the crash.

According to a report last month by the US National Transportation Safety Board, which is also investigating the crash, Vasquez told federal investigators she had been monitoring the self-driving interface in the auto and that neither her personal nor business phones were in use until after the crash.

The local police force in Tempe, AZ, are supposing that the debacle could have been avoided if the test driver had been paying close attention to her surroundings, effectively contradicting the prior belief that the incident was unavoidable. She stopped watching at 9:59 pm, which the report says "coincides with the approximate time of the collision".

According to the police report, Vasquez was distracted in this way for seven of the almost 22-minutes just prior to the collision.

An Uber spokeswoman announced the company was undergoing a "top-to-bottom safety review" last month. Uber employs drivers to sit behind the wheel and take over in the event of an emergency.

Uber immediately halted public testing of its self-driving vehicles following the crash.

Watch video of Uber self-driving vehicle accident in Arizona.

The crash dealt Uber a major setback in its efforts to develop self-driving cars, and the company shuttered its autonomous vehicle testing program in Arizona after the incident. The responsibility for braking was left up to Vasquez - who didn't look up until 0.5 seconds before the accident.

Uber had hoped to return its self-driving cars to Pittsburgh's streets by the end of the June.

After reviewing the evidence, police concluded that the accident was "entirely avoidable".

The Tempe Police Department's report released to Reuters builds on a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report filed May 24. "Her hands are not visible in the frame of the video during these times".

Uber has a zero-tolerence policy prohibiting the use of mobile device, even a smartwatch, by its safety drivers, the spokesperson said.

At the time of the accident, Vasquez had both business and personal phones in the auto. "We plan to share more on the changes we'll make to our programme soon". "The operator further stated that although her personal and business phones were in the vehicle, neither was in use until after the crash, when she called 911", according to the NTSB.

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