Emails show few questions about public safety from AZ governor to Uber

Posted: Updated:
An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN) An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN)
One of the California regulations Uber objected to was a requirement to report how often drivers had to take over the wheel of driverless cars but Ducey required no such disclosure. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) One of the California regulations Uber objected to was a requirement to report how often drivers had to take over the wheel of driverless cars but Ducey required no such disclosure. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
At that time, there had been no public announcement that Uber was testing driverless cars on Arizona’s roads. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) At that time, there had been no public announcement that Uber was testing driverless cars on Arizona’s roads. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The contents of these emails became important just over a week ago when an Uber driverless vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. (Source: Tempe Police Department) The contents of these emails became important just over a week ago when an Uber driverless vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. (Source: Tempe Police Department)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Emails obtained by CBS 5 Investigates show lots of coordination between Uber and Gov. Doug Ducey’s office when it came to publicity for the ride-sharing company, its battles with the City of Phoenix over access to riders at Sky Harbor International Airport and permission to test driverless cars on Arizona’s roadways. What is missing is almost any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe.

[RELATED: Emails show Arizona governor's tight connection with Uber]

An email, dated August 19, 2016, sent from Uber representative to Governor Ducey’s deputy chief of staff stated:

“…in addition to the mapping Phoenix, which I mentioned a few weeks ago, starting this weekend, we’ll start testing some self-driving functionality…”

“I’d also like our team to be able to give local PD a heads up – do you have a recommendation for someone discreet in Phoenix PD they can reach out to?”

[READ MORE: Uber coming to AZ to test self-driving cars, governor says 'Welcome' (Dec. 22, 2016)]

At that time, there had been no public announcement that Uber was testing driverless cars on Arizona’s roads. Waymo and at least one other driverless car company were doing it, but the only announcement CBS 5 Investigates could find about Uber involved a mapping project in Tucson the year before.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Woman killed by self-driving Uber]

“Allegations that any company has 'secretly' tested self-driving cars in Arizona is 100 percent false. From the beginning, Arizona has been very public about the testing and operation of self-driving cars -- it has been anything but a secret,” wrote a spokesperson for Gov. Ducey.

The contents of these emails became important just over a week ago when an Uber driverless vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bike across a dark portion of Mill Avenue. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause.

[ORIGINAL STORY: NTSB team is in Tempe investigating self-driving Uber wreck that killed pedestrian]

Last week, The New York Times reported that Uber had been experiencing problems with its driverless fleet. While drivers for its competitor, Waymo, were logging 5,600 miles before having to take the wheel to avoid problems on the roadways, Uber drivers were having trouble meeting their goal of just 13 miles per intervention, according to the Times report.

[READ MORE: Report: Uber knew of problems with self-driving cars before fatal crash]

Uber was under no obligation to share that information with traffic safety officials in Arizona because disclosure was not a requirement to test the vehicles in Arizona. California does have that requirement, but Uber took its driverless cars from that state at the end of 2016 and brought them to Arizona after a dispute over regulations.

[RELATED: Gov. Ducey takes first ride in self-driving car (Dec. 19, 2016)]

“California may not want you. Arizona does want Uber,” said Ducey at the time.

A spokesperson for the governor wrote that regulations in other states, like California, would not have prevented this accident.

[RELATED: Driving instructor simulates crash, says autonomous Uber accident was preventable]

The NTSB has released no conclusions about the cause of the fatal collision.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

Hide bio

  • Self-driving Uber hits, kills pedestrian in TempeMore>>

  • Additional family members of woman killed by self-driving Uber have hired a lawyer

    Additional family members of woman killed by self-driving Uber have hired a lawyer

    Saturday, March 31 2018 12:02 AM EDT2018-03-31 04:02:24 GMT

    Uber's legal troubles might be an even longer road. More relatives of the woman killed by one of the company's self-driving SUVs have found legal representation.  

    More >

    Uber's legal troubles might be an even longer road. More relatives of the woman killed by one of the company's self-driving SUVs have found legal representation.  

    More >
  • Arizona governor still backs self-driving cars

    Arizona governor still backs self-driving cars

    Friday, March 30 2018 9:17 AM EDT2018-03-30 13:17:53 GMT
    Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated on Thursday his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP)Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated on Thursday his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP)
    Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated on Thursday his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP)Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated on Thursday his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP)

    He reiterated his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer.

    More >

    He reiterated his support for the self-driving vehicles as a way to make roads and highways safer.

    More >
  • Emails show few questions about public safety from AZ governor to Uber

    Emails show few questions about public safety from AZ governor to Uber

    Thursday, March 29 2018 10:42 AM EDT2018-03-29 14:42:21 GMT
    An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN)An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN)
    An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN)An investigation reveals Gov. Ducey's emails didn't contain any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/CNN)

    Emails obtained by CBS 5 Investigates show lots of coordination between Uber and Governor Doug Ducey’s office but what is missing is almost any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe.

    More >

    Emails obtained by CBS 5 Investigates show lots of coordination between Uber and Governor Doug Ducey’s office but what is missing is almost any reference to the question of whether Uber’s driverless cars were safe.

    More >