Limousine driver Kevin George Aziz Riad may soon find himself behind bars after being hit with two felony charges tied to a fatal car crash involving Tesla’s autopilot feature.
On December 29, 2019, Riad was reportedly using his vehicle’s autopilot feature while exiting a highway. As he exited the highway in his black Model S, his car ran through a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic. Tragically, the crash not only damaged both vehicles, but it also killed two people.
More than two years after the fatal crash, the Associated Press has learned that Riad has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter. While waiting for his next court date, Riad remains free on bail.
This is not the first time that Tesla’s autopilot feature had been linked to the death of another driver. However, a number of those fatal crashes resulted in wrongful death lawsuits being filed against Tesla. In this case, Riad has become the first driver to be charged with a felony after being involved in a fatal crash tied to the autopilot feature.
Tesla continues to warn drivers that they must keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while using the autopilot feature. However, the company has not implemented a more detailed autopilot monitoring system that includes features like an infrared eye tracking. Still, drivers have been recorded recklessly using the autopilot feature while on the road.
“NHTSA reminds the public that no commercially available motor vehicle today can drive itself,” a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson told The Verge.
“Whether a L2 automated driving system is engaged or not, every available vehicle requires the human driver to be in control at all times, and all State laws hold the human driver responsible for the operation of their vehicles.”