Tesla Autopilot Driver Dies in a Fatal Crash

A judge has ruled that the Tesla driver who was using autopilot to cause a fatal crash in Los Angeles must be tried for the two deaths.

A Los Angeles County judge stated that there was enough evidence to charge Kevin George Aziz Riad with vehicular manslaughter.

Thursday’s decision by a judge that a Tesla Model S driver who was involved in a fatal 2019 car crash in Gardena left two people in their deaths, can be brought to trial.

It is believed that this was the first U.S. felony prosecution against a driver who operated a partially automated driving machine.

Police say the Tesla ModelS left a freeway, ran a red light at Gardena, and was traveling at 74 mph when it crashed into a Honda Civic. This happened on Dec. 29, 2019.

Gilberto Alcazar Lopez (40), of Rancho Dominguez, and Maria Guadalupe Nieves–Lopez (39), of Lynwood were killed in the crash. They were riding in the Civic on their first date that night.

Riad, along with a Tesla Tesla driver, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Prosecutors said the Tesla’s Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control were active. According to a Tesla engineer, sensors indicated Riad held the steering wheel. However, crash data did not show that brakes were applied during the six minutes preceding the crash.

Thursday’s testimony by a police officer revealed that traffic signs warning drivers to slow down were placed near the end the freeway.

Tesla says that Autopilot is a better option than a more complex system. “Full Self-Driving”System cannot drive itself, so drivers need to pay attention and be ready for anything.

Two federal agencies are currently investigating misuse of Autopilot. It can control speed, steering and braking. Drivers who use Autopilot to control their vehicles could be made aware by the filing of charges in California.

The criminal charges aren’t the first involving an automated driving system, but they are the first to involve a widely used driver technology. Arizona authorities filed a negligent homicide charge against Uber’s driver in 2020. He was hired by Uber to test a fully autonomous vehicle on public roads. A pedestrian was killed and injured by the Uber vehicle, which was an SUV with a human driver.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed Wednesday that it had sent a special crash investigation group to investigate whether the Tesla that was involved in the fatal crash of May 12 in Newport Beach, killing three people, was partially automated.

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