A Tesla Autopilot Killed Two People: Who Is Guilty?

Who is Guilty of a Tesla Crash



Abigail Turley, Writer

Tesla has taken today’s driving to the next level with its new autopilot system.  Its features are lane centering, traffic-aware cruise control, automatic lane changes, semi-autonomous navigation on limited-access freeways, self-parking, and the ability to summon the car from a garage or parking spot. In all of these features, the driver is responsible and the car requires constant supervision. Tesla claims the feature can help reduce accidents caused by driver negligence and long-time fatigue. Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla, first came up with the idea of autopilot publicly in 2013, noting that “Autopilot is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.” In October of 2014, the company offered the choice for customers to pre-purchase the autopilot feature. 

    On December 29, 2019, a Honda Civic pulled into an intersection in Gardena California. It was after midnight and the traffic light was green. As the car proceeded through the intersection, a 2016 Tesla Model S on Autopilot exited a freeway, ran through a red light, and crashed into the Civic. The Civic’s driver, Gilberto Alcazar Lopez, and his passenger, Maria Guadalupe Nieves-López, were killed instantly. Almost 2 years later Los Angeles County filed two counts of vehicle manslaughter against the driver of the Tesla. Experts believe it is the first felony prosecution in the United States of a driver accused of causing a fatality while using a partially automated driver-assist system. The driver, 27-year-old Kevin George Ariz Riad, pleaded innocent. Kevin is a limousine service driver and while the case is pending, Riad is free on bail. Although Riad’s defense attorney didn’t respond to comment requests, the Los Angeles County prosecutors also declined to discuss anything. Riad has a scheduled preliminary meeting on Feb. 23.Driver in Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash Charged With Felony Manslaughter in US First

    The defendant is the first person to have felony charges in the U.S. because of a fatal crash. Which involves the use of self-driving technology. This case has led people to the confusion of automated driving where safety is a concern. While the criminal charge isn’t the first one involving an Autopilot system, this is the first case involving a widely used driver technology.

     The misuse of the autopilot feature, which can control steering, speed, and braking,  has occurred in multiple situations and is the subject of investigations by two federal agencies. The filing of charges in the California crash could serve as notice to drivers who use systems like Autopilot that they cannot rely on them to control vehicles.