NTSB eyes fatal crash involving self-driving car

(Left) Location of the crash on northbound Mill Avenue, showing the paths of the pedestrian in orange and of the Uber test vehicle in green. (Right) Postcrash view of the Uber test vehicle, showing damage to the right front side. ( NTSB )

The National Transportation Safety Board is moving to determine the probable cause of the first fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle.

Elaine Herzberg died in March 2018 when an Uber vehicle struck her as she walked across a darkened street in Tempe, Arizona. The collision happened while she was crossing Mill Avenue with her bicycle, just south of Curry Road.

The board will meet Nov. 19 as part of its efforts.

A preliminary report by the board said the Uber autonomous driving system spotted Herzberg before hitting her but a system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled.

Authorities say records show the backup driver, identified as Rafaela Vasquez, was streaming a television show on her phone in the moments before the crash.

Prosecutors declined to file charges against Uber, as a corporation, in Herzberg’s death, but they’re still considering whether to charge the driver.

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