A Tesla driver is apparently the first person in the US to be charged with manslaughter over a fatal accident in which the vehicle’s autopilot mode was activated. […]
According to police, at the end of 2019, the 27-year-old driver left the highway at high speed with his Tesla Model S, ran a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic at an intersection in Gardena, Los Angeles County. The two people in the car were killed, the Tesla driver and his passenger survived with non-life-threatening injuries.
The public prosecutor’s office in California had already filed charges against 27-year-old Kevin George Aziz Riad in October last year. Only now, however, details of the case became known, as the press agency AP reported. Riyadh, who worked as a driver for a limousine service, has been charged with two counts of negligent homicide and is on bail after pleading not guilty. The responsible National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) confirmed that Riyadh had been driving in autopilot mode at the time of the accident.
The indictment is a first: it is the first time that a Tesla driver has been prosecuted in America for a fatal car accident in which the autopilot was turned on. In total, the NHSTA investigated 13 accidents involving Tesla vehicles, which the authority assumed were traveling with the autopilot system. The results were published in two of these cases, with autopilot being used in one case. In the other ten cases, the results are still pending, the authority said in a statement.
Tesla has repeatedly warned against taking your hands off the steering wheel when driving in autopilot mode and in the so-called full self-driving mode. However, numerous accidents indicate that in practice Tesla drivers do not follow the instruction to keep an eye on traffic and keep their hands on the steering wheel. The Riyadh case could lead to a rethink here if it turns out that one can also be held criminally responsible for accidents involving partially autonomously controlled vehicles.
*Manfred Bremmer deals with (almost) everything that falls into the fields of mobile computing and communications. He prefers to take a close look at mobile solutions, operating systems, apps and devices and checks them for their business suitability. Bremmer is interested in gadgets of all kinds and also tests them.