Tag Archives: Automotive accidents

Backup driver in deadly Arizona Uber autonomous crash charged


Prosecutors have filed a legal cost towards the backup driver of an autonomous Uber car that fatally struck a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix

PHOENIX — The backup Uber driver concerned within the first self-driving car fatality has been charged with negligent murder for being distracted within the moments earlier than fatally placing a girl in suburban Phoenix.

Maricopa County Legal professional Allister Adel’s workplace mentioned on Tuesday that Rafaela Vasquez was charged on Aug. 27 within the 2018 crash in Tempe that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She pleaded not responsible throughout a listening to on Tuesday. Her lawyer didn’t instantly reply to an inquiry from The Related Press.

Prosecutors declined in March 2019 to file legal costs towards Uber, as a company, in Herzberg’s demise.

Vasquez, 46, advised investigators that she didn’t use her cell telephones earlier than the crash.

However the Nationwide Transportation Security Board concluded Vasquez’s failure to observe the highway as she watched the tv present “The Voice” on her telephone was the principle reason behind the crash.

The contributing components cited by the board included Uber’s insufficient security procedures and ineffective oversight of its drivers, Herzberg’s resolution to cross the road outdoors of a crosswalk, and the Arizona Division of Transportation’s inadequate oversight of autonomous car testing.

The board additionally concluded Uber’s de-activation of its automated emergency braking system elevated the dangers related to testing automated autos on public roads. As an alternative of the system, Uber relied on the human backup driver to intervene.

The Uber system detected Herzberg 5.6 seconds earlier than the crash. Nevertheless it however failed to find out whether or not she was a bicyclist, pedestrian or unknown object, or that she was headed into the car’s path, the board mentioned.

The demise reverberated all through the auto business and Silicon Valley and compelled different corporations to sluggish what had been a quick march towards autonomous ride-hailing companies on public roads.

Uber pulled its self-driving vehicles out of Arizona the day earlier than the NTSB issued a preliminary report on the crash, eliminating the roles of about 300 individuals who served as backup drivers and carried out different jobs linked to the autos.

Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from persevering with its exams of self-driving vehicles after Herzberg was run over.

A toxicology report confirmed that Herzberg examined constructive for methamphetamine.

Vasquez had beforehand spent greater than 4 years in jail for 2 felony convictions — making false statements when acquiring unemployment advantages and tried armed theft — earlier than beginning work as an Uber driver, in keeping with court docket data.

Vasquez’s first identify was listed on a driver’s license as Rafael, however police say Vasquez identifies as a girl and goes by the primary identify of Rafaela.

The choice to not criminally cost Uber in Herzberg’s demise was made by Yavapai County Legal professional Sheila Polk, whose officer dealt with the case after the prosecutor’s workplace in metro Phoenix cited a possible battle of curiosity for having beforehand participated in a public-safety marketing campaign with Uber.

The case was returned to prosecutors in metro Phoenix after the choice to not cost Uber had eradicated the battle of curiosity.

A trial for Vasquez is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2021.


This story has been corrected to indicate Vasquez’s age is 46.


Krisher reported from Detroit.


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NTSB releases details in 2 crashes involving Tesla Autopilot


An Apple engineer who died when his Tesla Model X slammed into a concrete barrier had previously complained about the SUV malfunctioning on that same stretch of Silicon Valley freeway.

His complaints were detailed in a trove of documents released Tuesday by federal investigators in two Tesla crashes involving Autopilot, one in California and the other in Florida.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the March 2018 crash that killed Walter Huang near Mountain View, California. It’s also probing a crash in Delray Beach, Florida, that happened about a year later and killed driver Jeremy Banner.

The documents say Huang told his wife that Autopilot had previously veered his SUV toward the same barrier on U.S. 101 near Mountain View where he later crashed. Huang died at a hospital from his injuries.

“Walter said the car would veer toward the barrier in the mornings when he went to work,” the Huang family’s attorney wrote in a response to NTSB questions.

Records from an iPhone recovered from the crash site showed that Huang may have been using it before the accident. Records obtained from AT&T showed that data had been used while the vehicle was in motion, but the source of the transmissions couldn’t be determined, the NTSB wrote. One transmission was less than a minute before the crash.

Huang had described Autopilot’s previous malfunctioning to his brother, the Huang family attorney wrote, in addition to talking with a friend who owns a Model X. Huang, a software engineer, discussed with the friend how a patch to the Autopilot software affected its performance and made the Model X veer, according to the attorney.

The Huang family is suing Tesla and California’s Department of Transportation for allegedly failing to maintain the highway.

Autopilot is a partially automated system designed to keep a vehicle in its lane and keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of it. It also can change lanes with driver approval. Tesla says Autopilot is intended to be used for driver assistance and that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

The full NTSB board is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Mountain View crash on Feb. 25. At that time, it will determine a cause and make safety recommendations.

NTSB staff members have already recommended that California transportation officials move faster to repair highway safety barriers damaged by vehicles.

A report from the agency says California officials failed to fix the barrier that was damaged in a crash 11 days before Huang was killed. In that incident, a 2010 Toyota Prius traveling over 75 mph (120 kmh) crashed against the attenuator, a cushion that protects vehicles from hitting the end of concrete lane dividers.

The California Highway Patrol responded to the March 12 crash but did not notify the state Department of Transportation of the damage as required, the NTSB said.

Huang’s 2017 Tesla Model X was traveling at 71 mph (114 kph) when it crashed against the same attenuator, which the NTSB determined had been damaged and repaired more frequently than any other left-exit in Caltrans’ District 4, which includes all of the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the three years before the Tesla crash, the device was struck at least five times, including one crash that resulted in fatalities. A car struck it again on May 20, 2018, about two months after the Tesla crash, the NTSB said.

NTSB first released some details from its investigation in September.

The California Department of Transportation said in a statement Tuesday that it has “identified and is implementing several steps to enhance monitoring and tracking of the repair of damage” to highway infrastructure.

“These efforts include updates to its policies and maintenance manual, training of staff, and enhanced reporting on the timely repair of high priority traffic safety devices,” Caltrans said.

In the Florida crash, Banner turned on the Autopilot function of his Model 3 sedan 10 seconds before the crash, then took his hands off the steering wheel, NTSB documents said. The car then drove underneath a tractor-trailer that was crossing in front of it, sheering off the car’s roof and killing Banner. It was eerily similar to another Florida crash in 2016 in which a Tesla on Autopilot went beneath a semi trailer.

The NTSB said in a preliminary report that it still hasn’t determined the cause of the crash. According to the report, traffic was light on the four-lane highway and dawn was breaking when Banner, 50, set his speed at 69 mph (111 kph) and activated the autopilot as he headed to work. The speed limit was 55 mph (88 kph). Seconds later, a tractor-trailer driven by Richard Wood, 45, pulled from a driveway and began to cross to the other side of the highway.

Wood said he saw two sets of car headlights coming toward him, but he thought he had time to make it across. “It was dark and it looked like the cars was back further than they was,” Wood told NTSB investigators four days after the crash.

A photo taken by the NTSB from Tesla’s front-end video camera showed Wood’s trailer fully blocking the road 1.5 seconds before the crash. Data from the Tesla’s computer shows that Banner hit his brakes less than a second before the crash, but the car went under the trailer. Wood says he saw a second car but it didn’t hit the trailer.


Krisher reported from Detroit. Terry Spencer contributed from Orlando, Florida.


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The Newest: Tour bus driver in lethal crash was on 1st journey


The Newest on a tour bus crash in Utah that left 4 Chinese language vacationers useless (all instances native):

5:50 p.m.

Investigators say the driving force of a tour bus that crashed in southern Utah and killed 4 Chinese language vacationers and left dozens extra injured had not too long ago been employed and was making his first journey.

Pete Kotowski of the Nationwide Transportation Security Board mentioned Sunday they’re investigating the driving force’s background, license {qualifications} and medical historical past. He did not disclose his identify, however mentioned he is from California. NTSB has not but interviewed him.

Kotowski says the reason for the Friday crash remains to be beneath investigation.

Utah Freeway Patrol officers have mentioned driver swerved and may need overcorrected, sending the bus rolling over right into a guardrail.

Cellphone messages left with the corporate listed on the bus, America Shengjia Inc. of California, haven’t been returned.


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four die after bus with Chinese language vacationers crashes in Utah


A tour bus carrying 30 Chinese language vacationers left Las Vegas within the morning and set off by the opposite worldly red-rock panorama of southern Utah towards Bryce Nationwide Park.

They had been just a few miles away from the park when the long-awaited abroad trip became a tragic nightmare.

The motive force veered off the sting of the street. When he yanked the steering wheel to place the bus again onto the freeway Friday morning, the momentum despatched the bus rolling down right into a guard rail, leaving carnage and particles in its wake on a two-lane freeway, authorities stated.

4 folks had been killed, and 5 others are in essential situation. The remainder of the passengers survived, however each single particular person aboard suffered some sort of harm. Twelve remained hospitalized on Saturday.

As is frequent in tour buses, not everybody was carrying a seatbelt when the bus from a tour firm based mostly in Southern California rolled, crushing its roof and ramming the guard rail’s vertical posts into the cab, Utah Freeway Patrol Sgt. Nick Avenue stated.

Robert Driedonks, who heard the crash from the wildlife museum he owns close by, stated it gave the impression of “a bomb going off.” He ran to the scene Friday, speeding to test pulses and assist the terrified folks as greatest he may, although they had been removed from house and could not perceive his phrases.

“All I may do is see which individuals wanted assist probably the most,” he stated Saturday. One devastated man was cradling his lifeless spouse, and Driedonks wrapped his arms round them each, attempting to convey him just a little consolation till paramedics arrived.

Most sufferers had been in St. George, the place native Mandarin Chinese language audio system had been gathering to translate in addition to discover garments and sneakers for the folks left with nothing when the crash threw their suitcases into the desert, stated De He, a faculty district administrator coordinating the trouble.

The tour bus of largely older adults had stopped to gaze on the sweeping canyons of Zion Nationwide Park setting off for Bryce Canyon Nationwide park, he stated.

The crash occurred close to a freeway relaxation cease a couple of miles from Bryce Canyon, recognized for intricately formed red-rock spires referred to as hoodoos. The highest of the white bus could possibly be seen smashed inward, and one facet was peeling away because the car printed with a sunny palm tree got here to relaxation largely off the facet of the street towards an indication for restrooms.

The motive force, an American citizen, survived and was speaking with investigators, Avenue stated. The motive force did not seem intoxicated, however authorities had been nonetheless investigating his situation in addition to any doable mechanical issues, he stated.

There was some wind however not sturdy sufficient to trigger issues, Avenue stated.

A 10-person group from the Nationwide Transportation Security Board arrived Saturday to start investigating the crash. They’re anticipated to be in Utah 5 to 10 days and launch a preliminary report within the coming weeks.

The tour was operated by an organization referred to as America Shengjia Inc. Federal Motor Service Security Administration information point out it is a licensed small firm based mostly out of Ontario, California, with two autos and two drivers.

Data present one unsafe driving violation for failure to obey a visitors management system in Might 2018, however no historical past of earlier crashes. The corporate has not responded to requests for remark.

The vacationers aboard its bus had been amongst tens of millions who go to Utah’s 5 nationwide parks yearly. Bryce Canyon, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Salt Lake Metropolis, attracts greater than 2 million guests a 12 months.

Final 12 months, about 87,000 folks from China visited the state, making them the fastest-growing group of Utah vacationers, in line with tourism information.

Greater than half of tourists from China journey on tour buses, stated Vicki Varela, managing director of Utah Workplace of Tourism.

The Chinese language Embassy tweeted that it was saddened to be taught of the crash and that it was sending workers to assist the victims.

“You could have a gaggle from China who’ve labored onerous to come back to the states, acquired the visa and every thing they wanted, enthusiastic about it, and for a tragedy like this to occur it simply makes it all of the extra tragic,” Avenue stated.


Related Press author Brady McCombs contributed to the report.


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four Chinese language vacationers killed in Utah bus accident recognized


Authorities on Saturday recognized the 4 Chinese language vacationers killed in a bus crash in southern Utah, and the tour group is dispatching staff from China to assist these injured.

Three ladies and one man perished within the crash on a freeway operating by the red-rock panorama of southern Utah on Friday. The victims have been recognized as Ling Geng, 68, Xiuyun Chen, 67, Zhang Caiyu, 62, and Zhongliang Caiyu, 65. They had been all from Shanghai, China.

They had been a part of a tour group made up of 29 vacationers and one chief. They arrive from Shanghai and the close by provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Heilongjiang, based on a information report on the media web site huanqiu.com. The tour chief got here from Hebei Province, close to Beijing, based on the Zhejiang On-line information web site.

5 passengers remained in essential situation Friday night time, and the demise toll might rise, Utah Freeway Patrol Sgt. Nick Avenue mentioned.

All 31 folks on board had been damage. Twelve to 15 on board had been thought of to be in essential situation shortly after the crash, however a number of of them have since improved, Avenue mentioned. Not everybody was sporting a seatbelt, as is frequent in tour buses, he mentioned.

The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Tradition and Tourism urged the journey company, Shanghai Zhuyuan Worldwide Journey Company, to spare no effort in rescuing the injured and correctly deal with the follow-up issues.

Telephone calls to the journey company rang unanswered Sunday morning. Lu Yong, the journey company’s basic supervisor, instructed a Chinese language TV program that the company’s American companions despatched 10 employees members to hospitals to assist the victims talk with docs and police.

The Information Perspective program, a part of the Shanghai Media Group, mentioned in an article on its official social media account that seven family members of the victims had been anticipated to depart for the US on Monday or Tuesday with journey company employees and officers from the tradition and tourism bureau.

The information program’s social media submit included images of elements of the itinerary, indicating the accident occurred on the seventh day of a 16-day journey and in addition included visits to Yellowstone Nationwide Park, Salt Lake Metropolis and Las Vegas. They had been to fly to the East Coast after the western U.S. stops.

The crash occurred close to a freeway relaxation cease a couple of miles from southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park, an otherworldly panorama of slim red-rock spires.

Authorities consider the driving force swerved on the way in which to the park on Friday morning. However when he yanked the steering wheel to place the bus again onto the highway, the momentum despatched the bus right into a rollover crash, authorities mentioned.

The motive force, an American citizen, survived and was speaking with investigators, Avenue mentioned. He did not look like intoxicated, however authorities had been nonetheless investigating his situation in addition to any potential mechanical issues, he mentioned.

There was some wind, however it was not robust sufficient to trigger issues, Avenue mentioned.

The crash left the highest of a white bus smashed in and one facet peeling away because the automobile got here to relaxation largely off the facet of the highway towards an indication for restrooms.

The Nationwide Transportation Security Board was sending a group to analyze.

The corporate listed on the bus was America Shengjia Inc. Utah enterprise data point out it’s primarily based in Monterey Park, California. A lady answering the cellphone there didn’t have quick remark.

Intermountain Garfield Memorial Hospital mentioned it acquired 17 sufferers, together with three in essential situation and 11 in severe situation. Sufferers additionally had been taken to Cedar Metropolis and St. George hospitals.

Thousands and thousands of individuals go to Utah’s 5 nationwide parks yearly. Final yr, about 87,000 folks from China visited the state, making them the fastest-growing group of Utah vacationers, based on state knowledge.

Greater than half of holiday makers from China journey on tour buses, mentioned Vicki Varela, managing director of Utah Workplace of Tourism.

The Chinese language Embassy tweeted that it was saddened to listen to concerning the crash and that it was sending employees to assist the victims.

Bryce Canyon, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Salt Lake Metropolis, attracts greater than 2 million guests a yr.

“You could have a bunch from China who’ve labored arduous to return to the states, received the visa and every part they wanted, enthusiastic about it, and for a tragedy like this to occur it simply makes it all of the extra tragic,” Avenue mentioned.


Related Press author Brady McCombs in Salt Lake Metropolis, information assistant Henry Hou in Beijing and researcher Si Chen in Shanghai contributed to this story.


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Atlanta bans electrical scooters at evening, after lethal wrecks


Atlanta is banning electrical scooters within the nighttime hours throughout what’s been a lethal summer season for riders.

The ban comes as cities throughout the nation wrestle to control the businesses renting the gadgets and maintain riders secure.

In Atlanta, three riders have died since Might in crashes that concerned a public bus, an SUV and a automobile. Police within the Atlanta suburb of East Level say a fourth rider was killed there Tuesday in a collision involving his scooter and a truck.

“Sadly, we’ve seen a sample within the current and tragic fatalities involving scooters — all of them occurred after sundown,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated in an announcement Thursday.

Metropolis officers on Thursday introduced a ban on electrical scooters and electrical bikes from 9 p.m. till four a.m. day by day. The ban takes impact Friday.

“This atmosphere did not exist 14 months in the past or 12 months in the past — it is a model new factor,” Tim Keane, Atlanta’s commissioner of metropolis planning, stated in an interview Thursday.

“We wish this to be short-term,” he stated. “We hope that this ban could be very short-term.”

Metropolis officers have requested e-scooter distributors to disable the gadgets through the hours they’re banned, the mayor stated. The businesses are cooperating, and “I’ve heard no pushback in any respect,” Keane stated.

“We expect it is a cheap step as a short lived measure whereas the scooter program is re-examined,” stated Nima Daivari, Lime’s group affairs supervisor for Georgia. San Francisco-based Lime has one of many largest fleets in Atlanta, with a mean of about 1,800 obtainable for hire final month. “They see the worth right here, and Atlanta is a metropolis that is infamous for site visitors congestion.”

Visitors security information displaying the risks of using throughout late-night hours is “compelling,” Santa Monica, California-based Chook stated in an announcement Thursday. It had greater than 1,200 gadgets working in Atlanta final month, metropolis data present.

Late-night and early-morning journey, particularly between midnight and 5 a.m., is “many instances extra harmful resulting from impaired highway customers, fatigue and poor visibility,” Chook stated. The corporate has managed its service hours to keep away from late evening using, and can adjust to Atlanta’s new tips, it added.

Jason Layfield was visiting Atlanta from Guam on Thursday, and rode a motorized scooter for the primary time to get backwards and forwards from his resort and the conference he is attending.

“I do not see it essentially as a foul factor to restrict using at evening,” he stated. “I do not know that that is 100% vital, however I can perceive the way it could also be a good suggestion.”

Different communities, together with Dallas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Athens, Georgia, have lately thought-about some type of regulation of scooters, partly over issues about security.

Chicago has a nighttime ban much like Atlanta’s new coverage. Scooters there have to be inoperable after 10 p.m. and off the streets by midnight, stated Isaac Reichman, a Chicago Division of Enterprise Affairs and Client Safety spokesman. They’re allowed to function at 5 a.m. the following day, he stated.

The federal Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention reviewed medical data from scooter riders in Austin, Texas, in an effort to study extra in regards to the dangers related to using them. Researchers within the Austin research recognized 192 scooter-related accidents in three months in 2018.

Practically half of these had been head accidents, together with 15% that had been traumatic mind accidents, the CDC stated in its report. The researchers additionally discovered a troubling pattern: Lower than 1% of the injured riders wore a helmet.

Security issues are driving the nighttime bans in each Chicago and Atlanta, officers stated.

“We embrace scooters and bikes and we wish folks to have the ability to get round on them, significantly people who find themselves beginning to rely upon them for entry to transit and their jobs and issues like that,” Keane stated. “The place we’ve the possibility to make them safer, we’ve to do this.”


This story has been corrected to say police in East Level reported the most recent dying; not Atlanta police.


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Truck crash snarls commute out of NYC on eve of holiday


A dozen people were injured and thousands of commuters were delayed on the eve of July Fourth as a garbage truck flipped over a stone wall outside one of two tunnels connecting New Jersey with New York Wednesday.

Cars were rerouted and buses were delayed for hours as the injured were taken to three local hospitals.

Video posted on the internet showed several men rush up to the overturned orange Union City Department of Public Works truck after it fell from a street above after colliding with a bus and five vehicles. It came to rest on an embankment on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Although initial reports were that one individual was critically injured, all 12 were listed in stable condition by early evening.

Raymond Worrall, a spokesman with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, said the accident was under investigation.

Initially, most New Jersey-bound vehicles were held at the tunnel as crews worked to clear the truck. Traffic was permitted to flow into Manhattan.

Bus service from a major New York City hub, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, was initially suspended but later resumed.

For several hours, cars were being diverted to the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge, causing widespread delays on Manhattan’s West Side.


This story has been updated to delete an incorrect reference to traffic toward the tunnel being held.


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