© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A self-driven Volvo SUV owned and operated by Uber Technologies Inc. is flipped on its side after a collision in Tempe

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – Arizona prosecutors said on Tuesday that Uber Technologies Inc is not criminally liable in a March 2018 crash in which one of the company’s self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe.

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

Police said last year that Vasquez was streaming a television show on her phone until about the time of a fatal crash and called the incident “entirely avoidable.” An Uber spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Maricopa County Attorney referred the case last year to another office because of a conflict. In the letter on Tuesday, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Sullivan Polk said its investigation has concluded that “the collision video, as it displays, likely does not accurately depict the events that occurred.”

The letter said an “expert analysis” is needed to “closely match what (and when) the person sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle would or should have seen that night given the vehicle’s speed, lighting conditions, and other relevant factors.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are continuing to investigate the fatal crash.

In December, Uber resumed limited self-driving car testing on public roads in Pittsburgh, nine months after it suspended the program following the Arizona crash.

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2019-03-05