Tesla driver in Autopilot crash faces manslaughter charges; first known driver trial in self-driving crash

Tesla driver in Autopilot crash faces manslaughter charges; first known driver trial in self-driving crash

A driver of a Tesla Model S in the United States, who had his vehicle operating on Autopilot, is facing manslaughter charges for a crash that killed two persons in 2019 in Los Angeles, California, Fox 11 Los Angeles reported.

There is sufficient evidence for a trial to proceed against Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, the driver of the Tesla on two counts of manslaughter, a Los Angeles county judge said. This is believed to be the first felony prosecution of a driver using a partial vehicle automation system in the United States, according to the report.

The crash killed Gilberto Alcazar Lopez, 40, and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez, 39, in a Honda Civic when the Tesla departed a freeway and ran a red light. The Tesla was travelling at 74 mph (119 km/h) when it crashed into the Honda Civic at an intersection, the report quoted police as saying.

A Tesla engineer testified that the driver of the Model S, Riad had one hand on the steering wheel, however data showed that there was no brake input in the six minutes before the crash, and prosecutors said that the electric vehicle’s Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control systems were active at the time.

An earlier version of the Tesla Model S and an Uber-operated autonomous Volvo XC90 prototype had also previously been involved in autonomous driving fatalities

Meanwhile, a police officer testified that several traffic signs were posted near the end of the freeway, warning motorists to slow down, according to the report.

In an earlier, first-known Autopilot-related fatal crash, a drive of a Model S was found to be travelling at 119 km/h in a 105 km/h zone when the incident occurred in May 2016 in the United States. The deceased, Joshua Brown, previously uploaded a video demonstrating the Autopilot system’s ability in avoiding a side collision.

Other autonomous driving systems have been involved in fatal traffic incidents before, where an Uber self-driving Volvo XC90 prototype struck a pedestrian crossing the road in 2018, resulting in death.

The XC90’s factory-standard collision avoidance system was found to be disabled by Uber, and the IIHS said that the fatal crash could have been avoided if the vehicle’s standard systems were left activated. The state of Arizona suspended Uber’s self-driving tests following the incident.

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Mick Chan

Open roads and closed circuits hold great allure for Mick Chan. Driving heaven to him is exercising a playful chassis on twisty paths; prizes ergonomics and involvement over gadgetry. Spent three years at a motoring newspaper and short stint with a magazine prior to joining this website.



  • I work in IT (Software/Big Data/AI) and I think I can confirm computers will never replace humans at driving. No matter how advanced it is, it can never match human instincts. The best it can do is offer some kind of driver assistance, but not complete control of the vehicle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4
    • Martin Winlow on May 23, 2022 at 6:42 pm

      Interesting but I’d be interested to see NFU do the same research again now that Tesla have started to open up their Supercharger network to all-comers.

      I would also suggest that the NFU is not wildly representative of the general motoring population of the UK being a fairly conservative/traditional insurance company on top of the very rural bias pointed out in the article.

      For all the money the UK government has thrown at EV adoption thus far, they are doing a very bad job at educating motorists to the benefits of EVSE as well as dispelling the myths, one of which being poor range.

      In reality even now, with 60% of motoring households having offstreet parking and therefore for the vast majority of their motoring needs, easy charging, there really is no reason for a sizeable proportion of existing UK motorists not to make their next car an EV.

      From my perspective running a small EV-related business, I sense that there is enormous pent-up demand for making a switch to EVs and that hopefully once the shortages situation has resolved itself (even with Ukraine bubbling away in the background) the next year or two will see a very large swing to EVs and not just in the UK.

      You are missing the point. It only has to be a bit better than the average human driver in ordinary day-to-day traffic to start saving lives and considering that ~90% of human driver collisions are caused by very simple failures e.g. lack of attention, inappropriate speed for the conditions, distraction, etc, overall, an AI-based system stands a good chance of making a huge improvement in road safety than human driving. Going from Tesla’s statistics, it already does a much better job. You’re never going to be able to prevent *every* fatal accident and to expect AI to achieve this is silly and counter-productive.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5
    • Disagree. Humans are not very good drivers. A computer just need to be better than the average human to save lives and they are already basically there. It will not take long for computer-driven calls to have a measurable day rate than human drivers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • Logical Deduction on May 24, 2022 at 1:46 am

      According to Malaysian netizen logic, it should not be the driver fault cuz it was the car that drove itself and so since Tesla belongs to Elon Musk, netizen logic sez his parents must face criminal charges and go to jail.

      Let’s hope that stupid Sinkie driver that had gone handsfree in Malaysian road take note on this case and stop promoting his stupidity.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
    • Desmond Gasper on May 24, 2022 at 3:45 am

      That’s what they said about auto-pilots in aircraft before but it’s pretty much 100% autonomous now

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
      • Agreed but I think traffic in the air is different from on the ground. there are much more hazards on the road that the computers need to see and react to.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
        • Spin Too Much on May 24, 2022 at 3:32 pm

          If you think there is less hazards in the air then your dead wrong, dead as in literally a dodo if you make assumptions while flying. In the air, you cannot see the hazards until it is too late.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4
  • bieight8 on May 23, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Death sentence the driver

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  • Martin Winlow on May 23, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Are you *seriously* suggesting that no vehicle equipped with an older semi-auto-dtiving system eg cruise control has never been involved in a fatal collision prosecution before? Or do you mean just not one made by Tesla?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
    • Logical Deduction on May 24, 2022 at 1:49 am

      Others had not promoted it as self driving, only Tesla did so it was a matter of false advertisement. Pity the driver if he trusted the brochure specs more than his human sense.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

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