Tesla Driver Convicted for Manslaughter in Fatal Car Accident Involving Autopilot

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Prosecutors said that a Tesla driver who was using Autopilot to control the car has been charged for vehicular manslaughter following a California crash that left two people dead.

Kevin George Aziz Riad (27) has pleaded guilty. According to The Associated Press, he is a limousine driver. He is currently free on bail pending trial. His preliminary hearing is set for February 23.

In the crash, police said a Tesla Model S was moving at high speed when it left a Los Angeles County freeway and ran a red light before striking a Honda Civic at an intersection on Dec. 29, 2019. Authorities confirmed that Gilberto Alcazar Lopez (the Civic’s driver) and Maria Guadalupe Nieves Nieves–Lopez (the Civic’s passenger) both died at the scene.

Riad and a Tesla woman were both hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries. Riad was indicted in October. However, the case didn’t come to light until last Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent investigators out to investigate the crash. They confirmed that Autopilot was running in the Tesla when the crash occurred, according to The AP. The Los Angeles case is believed to be the country’s first in which a Tesla driver is charged with a felony involving the car’s Autopilot function. 

According to the news agency, two federal investigations are underway into the misuse of Autopilot. This software can be used to control speed, steering, and braking. 

Tesla has updated the software to try to make it more difficult to abuse and has worked to improve Autopilot’s ability to detect emergency vehicles.

Autopilot, and its more sophisticated versions, are available from the company. “Full Self-Driving”According to the AP, system cannot be used if drivers are not paying attention and able react quickly.