Well-Being

Tesla driver faces felony charges in fatal crash involving Autopilot

Story at a glance

  • Los Angeles County prosecutors have filed two vehicular manslaughter charges against 27-year-old Kevin George Aziz Riad.
  • Riad was exiting a highway in a Tesla Model S when he allegedly ran through a red light and slammed into a Honda Civic, killing two people, The Associated Press reports.
  • Tesla’s Autopilot system allows the vehicles to brake, accelerate and steer automatically, among other capabilities, but the electric car maker has emphasized that the feature does not make the car fully autonomous and requires driver supervision.

A California man is believed to be the first person in the U.S. charged with a felony in connection to a deadly crash involving Tesla’s partially automated driving system, according to The Associated Press (AP) 

Los Angeles County prosecutors have filed two vehicular manslaughter charges against 27-year-old Kevin George Aziz Riad in connection with a December 2019 crash in a suburb called Gardena. Riad was exiting a highway in a Tesla Model S when he allegedly ran through a red light and slammed into a Honda Civic, killing two people, AP reports.  

Riad, a limousine service driver, is currently free on bail while the case is pending. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 23.  

The news outlet notes the charges against Riad do not mention Tesla’s Autopilot feature, but reports investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) visited the scene of the crash at the time and later confirmed Autopilot was in use in the vehicle when the accident occurred.  


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Tesla’s Autopilot system allows the vehicles to brake, accelerate and steer automatically, among other capabilities, but the electric car maker has emphasized that the feature does not make the car fully autonomous and requires driver supervision.  

The NHTSA last year opened a formal investigation into the Autopilot feature following a series of crashes involving Tesla drivers and emergency vehicles.  

The AP said it is not the first instance of criminal charges filed involving semi-autonomous driving technologies, as an Uber driver in Arizona was charged with negligent homicide in 2020 after hitting a pedestrian while testing a fully autonomous vehicle on public roads.  

The outlet, however, notes it is the first instance of criminal charges involving widely used driver technology, as more than 700,000 Tesla vehicles are equipped with the feature.  


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