Tesla driver charged after Autopilot fatality
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A Tesla driver has reportedly just been charged with a felony after running a red light with Autopilot engaged and causing a fatal crash in 2019 near Los Angeles.
The driver of the Tesla faces two counts of vehicular manslaughter. It's possibly the first time in history that a driver has been charged for causing an accident in which advanced driver-assistance features were activated, but prosecutors don't even mention Autopilot. This is because, despite the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirming that Autopilot was in use in the Model S, it is always the drivers responsibility to drive the vehicle in a safe manor.
Kevin George Aziz Riad, the 27 year old driver, was driving a Tesla Model S on Autopilot when he proceeded through a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic, in which both occupants were killed. The Washington Post shared (behind a paywall) that "the defendant appears to be the first person to be charged with a felony in the United States for a fatal crash involving a motorist who was using a partially automated driving system."
"California prosecutors have filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla on Autopilot who ran a red light, slammed into another car and killed two people in 2019."
Tesla's Autopilot is a Level 2 drive assist system, similar to what you'd find in most new cars on the market. While the implication is that 'Autopilot' should mean 'self-driving vehicle', the driver is still responsible for driving the vehicle and should always be in control.
Riad has pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail.
It'll be interesting to see how this and future stories like this one develop, as technology advances and more people find themselves driving 'self-driving' vehicles.