A Tesla Model S driver who was involved in a tragic crash in a Los Angeles suburb will be standing trial. The driver was believed to have been operating his Tesla with Autopilot when the crash occurred.
According to a Los Angeles County Judge, there is enough evidence to try 27-year-old Kevin George Aziz Riad on two counts of vehicular manslaughter. The case would likely be the first felony prosecution in the United States against a driver using an advanced driver-assist system.
Authorities have noted that Riad’s Model S left the freeway and ran a red light in Gardena on December 29, 2019. The all-electric car was traveling at 74 mph when it hit a Honda Civic at an intersection, according to an ABC News report.
The impact was so violent that 40-year-old Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and 39-year-old Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, the occupants of the Civic, were killed. Relatives who later spoke to the media stated that the pair were on their first date when they were struck by Riad’s Model S.
Riad, for his part, was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The same was true for a woman who was with Riad in the Model S.
Prosecutors in the case noted that the Model S’ Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control were engaged at the time of the collision. A Tesla engineer who testified noted that sensors in the vehicle showed that Riad had his hand on the steering wheel. However, crash data showed that no brakes were applied in the six minutes prior to the accident.
While Autopilot is capable of performing driving maneuvers, the company has constantly reminded drivers that they have to pay close attention to the road whenever the system is operating. Tesla has also been consistent in reminding its customers that in its current iteration, Autopilot does not make a car fully autonomous.
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