First-ever felony charges filed against driver in fatal Autopilot-involved crash — Analysis

Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after two killed in collision involving ‘self-driving’ car

Tesla limousine driver is facing felony charges for vehicular manslaughter in the USA. Both passengers were killed when his car hit another vehicle at a red light.

Kevin George Aziz Riad was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. His Autopilot-enabled Tesla Model S hit a Honda Civic in Gardena at an intersection. This happened in December 2019 Riad, his passenger and both the Honda passengers died instantly.

Los Angeles County had filed charges against Riad back in October. However, Riad’s arrest was made public only last week. Riad, the limousine driver, has pleaded not guilty.

Teslas in self-driving mode ‘may perform’ rolling stops

Tesla warned its customers that Autopilot and the newer Full Self-Driving Mode, which are both more advanced than their older versions, are not fully capable of driving on roads without assistance. Drivers are to pay attention regardless of whether these modes are active. Riad was charged with driving without a license. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTA) issued a statement to remind customers that there are no current vehicles on the road capable of operating independently.

The National Transportation Safety Board has raised its concerns about such features, condemning drivers’ tendency to rely on Autopilot to drive the car while the operator sleeps or plays video games as “Automation complacency.” The NTSB has investigated some 26 Autopilot-involved crashes since 2016, involving 11 deaths.

Tesla may be held “Criminally, civilly and morally culpable” for the deaths of Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, the passengers of the Honda Civic killed in the crash, if it is found responsible for unleashing a dangerous technology on the nation’s roads, University of South Carolina law professor Bryant Walker Smith told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The victims’ families have sued the electric vehicle company, alleging that Tesla sells defective vehicles capable of accelerating suddenly while lacking an effective automatic emergency braking system. Riad was also sued for negligence.

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