Back-Up Driver of Autonomous Vehicle Charged With Negligent Homicide of Pedestrian

The broader safety implications of the death of Elaine Hertzberg after being struck by an Uber autonomous vehicle in Tempe is still being litigated. Last week, the back-up driver of the vehicle was charged with negligent homicide.

September 21, 2020, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

"The driver behind the wheel of an autonomous Uber car that fatally struck an Arizona woman has been charged with negligent homicide," reports Laurel Wamsley. 

Rafaela Vasquez has pleaded not guilty to the crime of killing Elaine Herzberg in March 2018. The charges follow the results of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, released last year, which "found that the probable cause of the crash was 'the failure of the vehicle operator to monitor the driving environment and the operation of the automated driving system because she was visually distracted throughout the trip by her personal cell phone,'" explains Wamsley.

According to a separate article by Kea Wilson, the indictment "is receiving poor reviews from street safety advocates because of its limited scope."

"Experts fear that by only holding the person behind the wheel accountable — rather than the employer who paid her to drive the car, the automaker who designed the dangerous vehicle, and the road designer who built the dangerous street where the crash occurred — justice won’t really be done," writes Wilson.

Planetizen correspondent Irvin Dawid wrote on the role of Uber and its Volvo autonomous vehicle technology in the fatal crash in March 2018.

Friday, September 18, 2020 in NPR

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

A screengrab of the Caharlotte Future virtual open house.

Top Websites for Urban Planning – 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the best of the urban planning Internet.

October 25, 2021 - James Brasuell

An aerial image of the neighborhood of Buckman in Portland, Oregon.

Homeowner Groups Find an Antidote to Zoning Reforms: National Register Historic Districts

Many neighborhoods are moving to create historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places in response to the growing number of states, cities, and neighborhoods loosening single-family residential zones.

October 22, 2021 - Sightline Institute

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.