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Manslaughter Charges Filed For Driver Of Tesla On Autopilot

The driver of a Tesla in Autopilot mode which ran a red light and killed two people in 2019 has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter in California – a charge which will test the laws and limits surrounding the fast-emerging technology.

The defendant, Kevin George Aziz Riad, is the first to be charged with a felony in the United States for a fatal crash involving a partially automated driving system. He has pleaded not guilty, and is free on bail.

This case will have huge ramifications. AP estimates that 765,000 automated Teslas are currently on American roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said of the accident “every vehicle requires the human driver to be in control at all times”. It is in the middle of investigating the “widespread misuse” of autopilot systems, and that the very design of the system “permitted the driver to disengage from the driving task”, in a separate 2018 crash.

Court documents allege Riad’s Tesla “suddenly and unintentionally accelerated to an excessive, unsafe and uncontrollable speed.”

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who studies automated vehicles, told AP that Tesla may be “criminally, civilly or morally culpable” is the system is found to be at fault.



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