On March 18, 2018, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was struck and killed by a self driving Uber car. The Tempe resident had been crossing the road with her bicycle when the automobile driven by a robotic computer failed to stop before hitting her head on.
At first Tempe police said Herzberg was at fault. Their report stated that she had come “from the shadows” stepping off the median and into the road. Herzberg was jaywalking with her bike and ended up in the path of the vehicle. Legal experts monitoring the case have already said that Herzberg will likely be criticized for jaywalking and also for being homeless with a criminal history. They have also been quick to follow up these criticism by explaining that Tempe is not bicycle or pedestrian friendly meaning jaywalking is absolutely necessary to cross the street. Furthermore Herzberg was actively trying to get her life back on track.
The self driving Volvo XC90 Uber car did have a safety driver behind the wheel. Video footage shows Rafaela Vasquez looking down rather than onto the road. Her hands were not on the top sides of the steering wheel as recommended by Uber. Vasquez was also not a professional driver and had a history of driving offenses, although they were not enough to disqualify her from the position. If the case is prosecuted, she is likely to come under intense scrutiny. Vasquez has not been charged.