Death of Elaine Herzberg
Elaine Marie Wood
August 2, 1968
|Died||March 18, 2018 (aged 49)|
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.
|Burial place||Phoenix, Arizona|
|Education||Apache Junction High School, Apache Junction, Arizona|
|Known for||First pedestrian to be killed by a self-driving car|
|Spouse(s)||Mike Herzberg (until his death); Rolf Erich Ziemann (until Elaine's death)|
The death of Elaine Herzberg (August 2, 1968 – March 18, 2018) was the first recorded case of a pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car, after a collision that occurred late in the evening of March 18, 2018. Herzberg was pushing a bicycle across a four-lane road in Tempe, Arizona, United States, when she was struck by an Uber test vehicle, which was operating in self-drive mode with a human safety backup driver sitting in the driving seat. Herzberg was taken to the local hospital where she died of her injuries.
Following the fatal incident, Uber suspended testing of self-driving vehicles in Arizona, where such testing had been sanctioned since August 2016. Uber chose not to renew its permit for testing self-driving vehicles in California when it expired at the end of March 2018.
Herzberg was the first pedestrian killed by a self-driving car; a driver had been killed by a semi-autonomous car almost two years earlier. She was not killed by an autonomous car (SAE level 4) because that car required a safety driver with a valid driver's license for operation and had not been cleared to operate without someone watching it. A reporter for The Washington Post compared Herzberg's fate with that of Bridget Driscoll who, in the United Kingdom in 1896, was the first pedestrian to be killed by an automobile. The Arizona incident has magnified the importance of collision avoidance systems for self-driving vehicles.
Herzberg was crossing Mill Avenue (North) from west to east, approximately 360 feet (110 m) south of the intersection with Curry Road, outside the designated pedestrian crosswalk, close to the Red Mountain Freeway. She was pushing a bicycle laden with shopping bags, and had crossed at least two lanes of traffic when she was struck at approximately 9:58 pm MST (UTC−07:00) by a prototype Uber self-driving car based on a Volvo XC90, which was traveling north on Mill. The vehicle had been operating in autonomous mode since 9:39 pm, nineteen minutes before it struck and killed Herzberg. The car's human safety backup driver, Ms. Rafaela Vasquez, did not intervene in time to prevent the collision. Vehicle telemetry obtained after the crash showed that the human operator responded by moving the steering wheel less than a second before impact, and she engaged the brakes less than a second after impact.
The county district attorney's office recused itself from the investigation, due to a prior joint partnership with Uber promoting their services as an alternative to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Accounts of the crash have been conflicting in terms of the speed limit at the place of the accident. According to Tempe police the car was traveling in a 35 mph (56 km/h) zone, but this is contradicted by a posted speed limit of 45 mph (72 km/h).
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a team of federal investigators to gather data from vehicle instruments, and to examine vehicle condition along with the actions taken by the safety driver. Their preliminary findings were substantiated by multiple event data recorders and proved the vehicle was traveling 43 miles per hour (69 km/h) when Herzberg was first detected 6 seconds (378 feet (115 m)) before impact; during 4.7 seconds the self driving system did not infer that emergency braking was needed. A vehicle traveling 43 mph (69 km/h) can generally stop within 89 feet (27 m) once the brakes are applied. The machine needed to be 1.3 seconds (82 feet (25 m)) away prior to discerning that emergency braking was required, whereas at least that much distance was required to stop. The system failed to behave properly. A total stopping distance of 76 feet itself would imply a safe speed under 25 mph (40 km/h). Human intervention was still legally required. Computer perception–reaction time would have been a speed limiting factor had the technology been superior to humans in ambiguous situations; however, the nascent computerized braking technology was disabled the day of the crash, and the machine's apparent 4.7-second perception–reaction (alarm) time allowed the car to travel 250 feet (76 m). Video released by the police on March 21 showed the safety driver was not watching the road moments before the vehicle struck Herzberg.
Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir was quoted stating the collision was "unavoidable" based on the initial police investigation, which included a review of the video captured by an onboard camera. Moir faulted Herzberg for crossing the road in an unsafe manner: "It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated, managed crosswalks are available." According to Uber, safety drivers were trained to keep their hands very close to the wheel all the time while driving the vehicle so they were ready to quickly take control if necessary.
The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them. His [sic] first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision. [...] it's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway.
Tempe police released video on March 21 showing footage recorded by two onboard cameras: one forward-looking, and one capturing the safety driver's actions. The forward-facing video shows that the self-driving car was traveling in the far right lane when it struck Herzberg. The driver-facing video shows the safety driver was looking down prior to the collision. The Uber operator is responsible for intervening and taking manual control when necessary as well as for monitoring diagnostic messages, which are displayed on a screen in the center console. In an interview conducted after the crash with NTSB, the driver stated she was monitoring the center stack at the time of the collision.
After the Uber video was released, journalist Carolyn Said noted the police explanation of Herzberg's path meant she had already crossed two lanes of traffic before she was struck by the autonomous vehicle. The Marquee Theatre and Tempe Town Lake are west of Mill Avenue, and pedestrians commonly cross mid-street without detouring north to the crosswalk at Curry. According to reporting by the Phoenix New Times, Mill Avenue contains what appears to be a brick-paved path in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes; however, posted signs prohibit pedestrians from crossing in that location. When the second of the Mill Avenue bridges over the town lake was added in 1994 for northbound traffic, the X-shaped crossover in the median was installed to accommodate the potential closing of one of the two road bridges. The purpose of this brick-paved structure is purely to divert cars from one side to the other if a bridge is closed to traffic, and although it may look like a crosswalk for pedestrians, it is in fact a temporary roadway with vertical curbs and warning signs.
Michael Ramsey, a self-driving car expert with Gartner, characterized the video as showing "a complete failure of the system to recognize an obviously seen person who is visible for quite some distance in the frame. Uber has some serious explaining to do about why this person wasn't seen and why the system didn't engage."
James Arrowood, a lawyer specializing in driverless cars in Arizona, speculated that if the sensors were unable to determine it was a person they were detecting due to Herzberg walking her bicycle across the street, with the bicycle's metal parts between her and the sensors and thus the sensors interpreted her presence as that of another vehicle that was moving out of its right of way, the software may have decided to proceed after assuming that [the 'vehicle] Herzberg would yield the right of way. However, the context to his connecting statement in the footnoted article was left out of that article, as evidenced by the singular use of the word 'decided' rather than the entire statement, in the prefatory sentence in the article. Arizona law (ARS 28-793) states that pedestrians crossing the street outside a crosswalk shall yield to cars but it was not Arrowood's intent to suggest that the sensors would presume a person had to move rather than the vehicle needing to brake, rather, the statement's full context was that the driverless vehicle's sensors might not have recognized her as a person due to the interference from the bicycle.   Per Arrowood, "The computer makes a decision. It says, 'Hey, there is this object moving 10 or 15 feet to left of me, do I move or not?' It (could be) programmed, I have a right of way, on the assumption that whatever is moving [presumably another vehicle] will yield the right of way." The NTSB preliminary report, however, noted that the software did order the car to brake 1.3 seconds before the collision.
A video shot from the vehicle's dashboard camera showed the safety driver looking down, away from the road. It also appeared that the driver's hands were not hovering above the steering wheel, which is what drivers are instructed to do so they can quickly retake control of the car. Uber moved from two employees in every car to one. The paired employees had been splitting duties: one ready to take over if the autonomous system failed, and another to keep an eye on what the computers were detecting. The second person was responsible for keeping track of system performance as well as labeling data on a laptop computer. Mr. Kallman, the Uber spokesman, said the second person was in the car for purely data related tasks, not safety. When Uber moved to a single operator, some employees expressed safety concerns to managers, according to the two people familiar with Uber's operations. They were worried that going solo would make it harder to remain alert during hours of monotonous driving.
The recorded telemetry showed the system had detected Herzberg six seconds before the crash, and classified her first as an unknown object, then as a vehicle, and finally as a bicycle, each of which had a different predicted path according to the autonomy logic. 1.3 seconds prior to the impact, the system determined that emergency braking was required, which is normally performed by the vehicle operator. However, the system was not designed to alert the operator, and did not make an emergency stop on its own accord, as "emergency braking maneuvers are not enabled while the vehicle is under computer control, to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior", according to NTSB.
Brad Templeton, who provided consulting for autonomous driving competitor Waymo, noted the car was equipped with advanced sensors, including radar and LiDAR, which would not have been affected by the darkness. Templeton stated "I know the [sensor] technology is better than that, so I do feel that it must be Uber's failure." Arrowood also recognized potential sensor issues: "Really what we are going to ask is, at what point should or could those sensors recognize the movement off to the left. Presumably she was somewhere in the darkness."
In a press event conducted by Uber in Tempe in 2017, safety drivers touted the sensor technology, saying they were effective at anticipating jaywalkers, especially in the darkness, stopping the autonomous vehicles before the safety driver can even see pedestrians. However, manual intervention by the safety drivers was required to avoid a collision with another vehicle on at least one instance with a reporter from The Arizona Republic riding along.
Uber announced they would replace their Ford Fusion-based self-driving fleet with cars based on the Volvo XC90 in August 2016; the XC90s sold to Uber would be prepared to receive Uber's vehicle control hardware and software, but would not include any of Volvo's own advanced driver-assistance systems. Uber characterized the sensor suite attached to the Fusion as the "desktop" model, and the one attached to the XC90 as the "laptop", hoping to develop the "smartphone" soon. According to Uber, the suite for the XC90 was developed in approximately four months. The XC90 as modified by Uber included a single roof-mounted LiDAR sensor and 10 radar sensors, providing 360° coverage around the vehicle. In comparison, the Fusion had seven LiDAR sensors (including one mounted on the roof) and seven radar sensors. According to Velodyne, the supplier of Uber's LiDAR, the single roof-mounted LiDAR sensor has a narrow vertical range that prevents it from detecting obstacles low to the ground, creating a blind spot around the vehicle. Marta Hall, the president of Velodyne commented "If you're going to avoid pedestrians, you're going to need to have a side lidar to see those pedestrians and avoid them, especially at night." However, the augmented radar sensor suite would be able to detect obstacles in the LiDAR blind spot.
On Thursday, June 21, the Tempe Police Department released a detailed report along with media captured after the collision, including an audio recording of the 911 call made by the safety driver, Rafaela Vasquez and an initial on-scene interview with a responding officer, captured by body worn video. After the crash, police obtained search warrants for Vasquez's cellphones as well as records from the video streaming services Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. The investigation concluded that because the data showed she was streaming The Voice over Hulu at the time of the collision, and the driver-facing camera in the Volvo showed "her face appears to react and show a smirk or laugh at various points during the time she is looking down", Vasquez may have been distracted from her primary job of monitoring road and vehicle conditions. Tempe police concluded the crash was "entirely avoidable" and faulted Vasquez for her "disregard for assigned job function to intervene in a hazardous situation".
Records indicate that streaming began at 9:16 pm and ended at 9:59 pm. Based on an examination of the video captured by the driver-facing camera, Vasquez was looking down toward her right knee 166 times for a total of 6 minutes, 47 seconds during the 21 minutes, 48 seconds preceding the crash. Just prior to the crash, Vasquez was looking at her lap for 5.3 seconds; she looked up half a second before the impact. Vasquez stated in her post-crash interview with the NTSB that she had been monitoring system messages on the center console, and that she did not use either one of her cell phones until she called 911. According to an unnamed Uber source, safety drivers are not responsible for monitoring diagnostic messages. Vasquez also told responding police officers she kept her hands near the steering wheel in preparation to take control if required, which contradicted the driver-facing video, which did not show her hands near the wheel. Police concluded that given the same conditions, Herzberg would have been visible to 85% of motorists at a distance of 143 feet (44 m), 5.7 seconds before the car struck Herzberg. According to the police report, Vasquez should have been able to apply the brakes at least 0.57 seconds sooner, which would have provided Herzberg sufficient time to pass safely in front of the car.
The police report was turned over to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office for review of possible manslaughter charges. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office recused itself from prosecution over a potential conflict of interest, as it had earlier participated with Uber in a March 2016 campaign against drunk driving. On March 4, 2019 Yavapai County Attorney released a letter indicating there is "no basis for criminal liability" against Uber Corporation; that potential charges against the driver should be further investigated by Maricopa County Attorney; and that the Tempe Police Department should analyze the case to gather additional evidence.
According to the preliminary report of the collision released by the NTSB, Herzberg had tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana in a toxicology test carried out after the collision. Residual toxicology itself does not establish if or when she was under their influence, and hence an actual factor. Inhibited faculties can hypothetically factor into one's relative ability for last-minute self-preservation. However, her mere presence on the roadway far in the distance ahead of the car was the factor which invoked the machine's duty to brake; the common legal duty to avoid her and other objects being general and preexisting.
On May 24, NTSB released a preliminary incident report, the news release saying that Herzberg "was dressed in dark clothing, did not look in the direction of the vehicle... crossed... in a section not directly illuminated by lighting... entered the roadway from a brick median, where signs...warn pedestrians to use a crosswalk... 360 feet north." Six seconds before impact, the vehicle was traveling 43 mph (69 km/h), and the system identified the woman and bicycle as an unknown object, next as a vehicle, then as a bicycle. At 1.3 seconds before hitting the pedestrian and her bike, the system flagged the need for emergency braking, but it failed to do so, as the car hit Herzberg at 39 mph (63 km/h).
The forward-looking Uber dashcam did not pick up Herzberg until approximately 1.4 seconds before the collision, suggesting (as the sheriff did) that the crash may have been completely unavoidable even if Vasquez hadn't been distracted in the seconds leading up to the crash.
However, night-time video shot by other motorists in the days following the crash, plus their comments, suggest that the area may have been better illuminated than the dashcam footage, viewed in isolation would suggest. This raises the possibility that Herzberg's appearing so late in the Uber video could merely be an indication that the camera had insufficient sensitivity or was otherwise poorly calibrated for the environment and setting in which it was operating. If these crowd-sourced re-creations are indeed representative of the visibility conditions on the actual night that the accident occurred, then Herzberg would have been visible to Vasquez as soon as there was a clear sight line had Vasquez only been looking ahead, refuting the assertion that the accident was unavoidable.
Complicating things even further, there is evidence that suggests the discrepancies in visibility between the dashcam footage and the civilian re-creation submissions are not at all invented or illusory, but are, instead, real phenomena whose progenitor is purported to be the set of severely under-powered headlights installed on the car Vasquez was monitoring. While all of these potential scenarios will likely affect any charging decisions and/or other legal actions (if they materialize at all), none currently have any objective validation or otherwise meaningful support, especially in relation to one another.
Coordination with state government
Prior to the fatal incident, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had encouraged Uber to enter the state. He signed Executive Order 2015-09 on August 25, 2015, entitled "Self-Driving Vehicle Testing and Piloting in the State of Arizona; Self-Driving Vehicle Oversight Committee", establishing a welcoming attitude to autonomous vehicle testing. According to Ducey's office, the committee, which consists of eight state employees appointed by the governor, has met twice since it was formed.
In December 2016, Ducey had released a statement welcoming Uber's autonomous cars: "Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads. While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses." Emails between Uber and the office of the governor showed that Ducey was informed that the testing of self-driving vehicles would begin in August 2016, several months ahead of the official announcement welcoming Uber in December. On March 1, 2018, Ducey signed Executive Order (XO) 2018-04, outlining regulations for autonomous vehicles. Notably, XO 2018-04 requires the company testing self-driving cars to provide a written statement that "the fully autonomous vehicle will achieve a minimal risk condition" if a failure occurs.
After the collision that killed Herzberg on March 18, 2018, Uber ceased testing self-driving vehicles in all four cities (Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto) where it had deployed them. On March 26, Governor Ducey sent a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, suspending Uber's testing of self-driving cars in the state. In the letter, Ducey stated "As governor, my top priority is public safety. Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona's approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona." Uber also announced it would not renew its permit to test self-driving cars in California after the California Department of Motor Vehicles wrote to inform Uber that its permit would expire on March 31, and "any follow-up analysis or investigations from the recent crash in Arizona" would have to be addressed before the permit could be renewed. Uber acknowledged that mistakes were made in its brash pursuit to ultimately create a safer driving environment.
Later in the year, Uber issued a reflective 70-page safety report in which Uber stated the potential for its self-driving cars to be safer than those driven by humans, however some of their employees worry that Uber is taking shortcuts to hit internal milestones. To be legal in all states for private use, or anywhere at the commercial level, the technology must hard code assured clear distance ahead driving.
Uber returned their self-driving cars to the roads in public testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 20, 2018. Uber said they received authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Uber said they were also pursuing the same with cars on roads in San Francisco, California and Toronto, Ontario. In December 2020, Uber sold its Advanced Technologies Group, which was researching automated driving systems, to Aurora Innovation.
The incident also caused other companies to temporarily cease road testing of self-driving vehicles. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has stated "We don't know that we would do anything different, but we should give ourselves time to see if we can learn from that incident."
Legal woes for Uber were among the collision fallout. Herzberg's daughter retained the law firm Bellah Perez, and together with the husband quickly reached an undisclosed settlement on March 28 while local and federal authorities continued their investigation. Herzberg's mother, father, and son also retained legal counsel. While a confidential settlement buried the liability issue, it suggested a sufficient legal cause of action. The abundance of event data recorders left few questions of fact for a jury to decide.
Although the Yavapai County Attorney declined to charge Uber with a criminal violation in 2019 for the death of Herzberg, a Maricopa County grand jury indicted the safety driver on one count of negligent homicide in 2020. Her trial was planned for February 2021, but has been delayed because the case was designated "complex" and the discovery process is ongoing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Automobile Association had previously identified nighttime driving as an area for safety improvement. This follows similar changes in attitudes against tolerating drunk driving, starting in the late 1970s through the 1990s, and has occurred in concert with a cultural shift towards active lifestyles and multi-modal use of roadways which has been formally adopted by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
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The documents indicate police are seeking manslaughter charges against Vasquez...."This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted," the report says....A crash report indicated that the self-driving vehicle was traveling too fast for the road conditions.
- Somerville, Heather; Shepardson, David (June 21, 2018). "Uber car's 'safety' driver streamed TV show before fatal crash: police". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
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- Bichell, Rae Ellen (July 30, 2017). "Scientists Still Seek A Reliable DUI Test For Marijuana". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
Though a blood test exists that can detect some of marijuana's components, there is no widely accepted, standardized amount in the breath or blood that gives police or courts or anyone else a good sense of who is impaired. ... "And it shocked everyone, including ourselves, that we could measure, in some of these individuals, THC in the blood for 30 days," says Marilyn Huestis, a toxicologist with the University of Maryland School of Medicine who recently retired from leading a lab at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. ... Conversely, another study showed that people who weren't regular consumers could smoke a joint right in front of researchers and yet show no evidence of cannabis in their blood. So, in addition to being invasive and cumbersome, the blood test can be misleading and a poor indicator of whatever is happening in the brain.
- "Preliminary Report Released for Crash Involving Pedestrian, Uber Technologies, Inc., Test Vehicle". www.ntsb.gov. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
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- Tempe Police Department [@TempePolice] (March 21, 2018). "Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Ducey, Douglas A. (August 25, 2015). "Self-Driving Vehicle Testing and Piloting in the State of Arizona; Self-Driving Vehicle Oversight Committee". Office of the Governor Doug Ducey. Archived from the original on March 27, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
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- Ducey, Douglas A. (August 25, 2015). "Advancing Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Operating; Prioritizing Public Safety". Office of the Governor Doug Ducey. Retrieved March 27, 2018.[permanent dead link]
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A video shot from the vehicle's dashboard camera showed the safety driver looking down, away from the road. It also appeared that the driver's hands were not hovering above the steering wheel, which is what drivers are instructed to do so they can quickly retake control of the car. ... Uber moved from two employees in every car to one. The paired employees had been splitting duties — one ready to take over if the autonomous system failed, and another to keep an eye on what the computers were detecting. The second person was responsible for keeping track of system performance as well as labeling data on a laptop computer. Mr. Kallman, the Uber spokesman, said the second person was in the car for purely data related tasks, not safety. ... When Uber moved to a single operator, some employees expressed safety concerns to managers, according to the two people familiar with Uber's operations. They were worried that going solo would make it harder to remain alert during hours of monotonous driving.
- "Uber ATG Safety Report". Uber Advanced Technologies Group. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
Self-driving vehicles hold the potential to drive more safely than a human driver. Computers can look in all directions at once, and they don't get distracted, fatigued, or impaired. (pg 13)
- * "Code § 321.285 Speed restrictions". The State of Iowa. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
Any person driving a motor vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other conditions then existing, and no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead, such driver having the right to assume, however, that all persons using said highway will observe the law.
- "§ 257.627 Speed limitations". The State of Michigan. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
§ 257.627(1) A person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing. A person shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.
- "Revised Code § 4511.21(A) Speed limits – assured clear distance". The State of Ohio. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
§ 4511.21(A)(A) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar at a speed greater or less than is reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions, and no person shall drive any motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar in and upon any street or highway at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
- "Oklahoma Statutes § 47-11-801". The State of Oklahoma. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
A. Any person driving a vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and any other conditions then existing, and no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than will permit the driver to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
- "§ 257.627 Speed limitations". The State of Michigan. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
- Bove v. Beckman, 236 Cal. App. 2d 555 (California Appellate Court Aug 16, 1965) (""A person driving an automobile at 65 miles an hour on a highway on a dark night with his lights on low beam affording a forward vision of only about 100 feet was driving at a negligent and excessive speed which was inconsistent with any right of way that he might otherwise have had." (CA Reports Official Headnote #)"). See California Official Reports: Online Opinions
- Ruth v. Vroom, 245 Mich. 88 (Supreme Court of Michigan December 4, 1928) ("It is settled in this State that it is negligence as a matter of law to drive an automobile at night at such speed that it cannot be stopped within the distance that objects can be seen ahead of it; and, if a driver's vision is obscured by the lights of an approaching car, it is his duty to slacken speed and have his car under such control that he can stop immediately if necessary. ... The rule adopted by this court does not raise merely a rebuttable presumption of negligence. It is a rule of safety. ... It is not enough that a driver be able to begin to stop within the range of his vision, or that he use diligence to stop after discerning an object. The rule makes no allowance for delay in action.").
- Gleason v. Lowe, 232 Mich. 300 (Supreme Court of Michigan October 1, 1925) ("...every man must operate his automobile so that he can stop it within the range of his vision, whether it be daylight or darkness. It makes no difference what may obscure his vision, whether it be a brick wall or the darkness of nightfall. ... He must ... be able to see where he is going, and if his range of vision is 50 feet, if he can see 50 feet ahead of him, he must regulate his speed so that he can stop in a distance of 50 feet; if he can see 20 feet ahead of him, he must regulate his speed so that he can stop within 20 feet, and so on.").
- Morris v. Jenrette Transport Co., 235 N.C. 568 (Supreme Court of North Carolina May 21, 1952) ("It is not enough that the driver of plaintiff's automobile be able to begin to stop within the range of his lights, or that he exercise due diligence after seeing defendants' truck on the highway. He should have so driven that he could and would discover it, perform the manual acts necessary to stop, and bring the automobile to a complete stop within the range of his lights. When blinded by the lights of the oncoming car so that he could not see the required distance ahead, it was the duty of the driver within such distance from the point of blinding to bring his automobile to such control that he could stop immediately, and if he could not then see, he should have stopped. In failing to so drive he was guilty of negligence which patently caused or contributed to the collision with defendants' truck, resulting in injury to plaintiff."...it was his duty to anticipate presence of others, [...] and hazards of the road, such as disabled vehicle, and, in the exercise of due care, to keep his automobile under such control as to be able to stop within the range of his lights").
- Demerest v. Travelers Insurance Company, 234 La. 1048, 234 La. 1040 (Supreme Court of Louisiana April 21, 1958) ("the jurisprudence of this state is that: "when visibility is materially impaired because of smoke, mist, dust, etc., a motorist should reduce his rate of speed to such extent and keep his car under such control as to reduce to a minimum the possibility of accident from collision; and as an extreme measure of safety, it is his duty, when visibility ahead is not possible or greatly obscured, to stop his car and remain at a standstill until conditions warrant going forward.").
- Lindquist v. Thierman, 216 Iowa 170 (Iowa Supreme Court May 15, 1933) ("it is evident that the words "within the assured clear distance ahead", as used in the statute, signify that the operator of the automobile, when driving at night as well as in the day, shall at all times be able to stop his car within the distance that discernible objects may be seen ahead of it.").
- Page v. Mazzei, 213 Cal. 644 (Supreme Court of California 21 September 1931) ("Where a car has actually entered an intersection before the other approaches it, the driver of the first car has the right to assume that he will be given the right of way and be permitted to pass through the intersection without danger of collision. He has a right to assume that the driver of the other car will obey the law, slow down, and yield the right of way, if slowing down be necessary to prevent a collision. ( Keyes v. Hawley, 100 Cal. App. 53, 60 [279 Pac. 674].) Nor is a plaintiff required to yield the right of way to one a considerable distance away whose duty it is to slow down in crossing an intersection. See Official Reports Opinions Online").
- Reaugh v. Cudahy Packing Co., 189 Cal. 335 (Supreme Court of California July 27, 1922) ("[The basic speed law] is but a reiteration of the rule, in statutory form, which has always been in force without regard to a statutory promulgation to the effect that drivers or operators of vehicles, and more particularly motor vehicles, must be specially watchful in anticipation of the presence of others at places where other vehicles are constantly passing, and where men, women, and children are liable to be crossing, such as corners at the intersections of streets or other similar places or situations where people are likely to fail to observe an approaching automobile."). See Official Reports Opinions Online
- Whitelaw v. McGilliard, 179 Cal. 349 (Supreme Court of California December 4, 1918) ("The rule regarding right of way does not impose upon the person crossing the street the duty of assuming that the other will continue across an intersecting street without slowing down, as required by law. See Official Reports Opinions Online").
- Booth v. Columbia Casualty Company, 227 La. 932 (Supreme Court of Louisiana April 25, 1955) ("The plaintiff having pre-empted the intersection had the right to proceed and under the well settled jurisprudence the automobile which first enters an intersection has the right of way over an approaching automobile and the driver who does not respect this legal right of the automobile which first entered the intersection to proceed through in safety, is negligent, even though the car thereafter entering the intersection is being driven on a right of way street.").
- Fitts v. Marquis, 127 Me. 75 (Supreme Judicial Court of Maine March 15, 1928) ("If a situation indicate collision, the driver, who can do so by the exercise of ordinary care, should avoid doing injury, though this involve that he waive his right of way. The supreme rule of the road is the rule of mutual forbearance.").
- "Uber Puts First Self-Driving Car Back on the Road Since Death". Transport Topics. December 22, 2018. Archived from the original on February 21, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
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- Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Goodman, 275 U.S. 66 (Supreme Court of the United States October 31, 1927) ("In an action for negligence, the question of due care is not left to the jury when resolved by a clear standard of conduct which should be laid down by the courts ... If, at the last moment, [he] found himself in an emergency, it was his own fault that he did not reduce his speed earlier or come to a stop.").
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The passenger vehicle occupant fatality rate at nighttime is about three times higher than the daytime rate. ...The data shows a higher percentage of passenger vehicle occupants killed in speeding-related crashes at nighttime.
- National Center for Statistics and Analysis (July 2015). "Overview: 2013 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 169)" (PDF). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 23, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
motor vehicle crashes in 2013 were the leading cause of death for children age 4 and every age from 16 to 24. ... An average of...one fatality every 16 minutes. ... The estimated economic cost of all motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States in 2010 (the most recent year for which cost data is available) was $242 billion. ... When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2010 was an estimated $836 billion. ... Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- McKernan, Megan (May 13, 2015). "AAA Tests Shine High-Beam on Headlight Limitations". AAA Automotive Research Center. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
AAA's test results suggest that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph (64 km/h). ...high-beam settings on halogen headlights...may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds...Additional testing found that while the advanced headlight technology found in HID and LED headlights illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counterparts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph (72 km/h). High-beam settings on these advanced headlights offered significant improvement over low-beam settings, lighting distances of up to 500 feet (equal to 55 mph). Despite the increase, even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of the sight distance that the full light of day provides.
- Leighton Walter Kille (October 5, 2014). "Transportation safety over time: Cars, planes, trains, walking, cycling". Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative. Archived from the original on December 16, 2018. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
Since 1980 the average horsepower of U.S. cars more than doubled, and speed limits have risen significantly, greatly increasing the potential for damage, loss of life and injuries. ... "One might argue that transportation equipment, and in particular the motor vehicle, must be the most dangerous machines that we interact with on a daily basis," the researcher states. "The annual toll in motor vehicle crashes exceeds the deaths resulting from the next most dangerous mechanical device, firearms, by about 40%."
- C.N. Kloeden; A.J. McLean; V.M. Moore; G. Ponte. "Travelling Speed and the Risk of Crash Involvement" (PDF). NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit, The University of Adelaide. p. 54. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 2, 2018. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
the relative risk of an injury crash when travelling at 65 km/h in a 60 km/h speed limit zone is similar to that associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 g/100mL. By strange coincidence, if the blood alcohol concentration is multiplied by 100, and the resulting number is added to 60 km/h, the risk of involvement in a casualty crash associated with that travelling speed is almost the same as the risk associated with the blood alcohol concentration. Hence, the risk is similar for 0.05 and 65, as noted; for 0.08 and 68; for .12 and 72, and so on...
- NTSB investigation of Uber crash, Accident No. HWY18FH010
- Dashcam video related to accident, via BBC
- Davies, Alex (June 22, 2018). "The unavoidable folly of making humans train self-driving cars". Wired. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- Video illustrating issue of speed and Sight Distance