Tesla driver sentenced to probation for deadly Autopilot crash

Kevin George Aziz Riad has been sentenced to two years of probation in what is the first felony prosecution in the US for a driver while using Tesla’s Autopilot technology. The incident occurred on December 29, 2019, in Gardena, California when Riad’s Tesla Model S, operating on Autopilot, ran a red light at a high speed of 74 mph (119km/h) and crashed into a Honda Civic, killing Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez.

In May 28-year old Riad pleaded no contest to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. Last week he was sentenced to two years of probation, with the possibility of facing four years in state prison if he violates the terms of his probation. In addition to probation, Riad must complete 31 days of work for Caltrans or another approved group, perform 100 hours of community service, spend 90 days under house arrest, and participate in a hospital and morgue program. (via Daily Breeze)

During the trial, testimony from Tesla engineer Eloy Rubio Blanco revealed the crash data retrieved from the Tesla vehicle showed that the steering wheel remained close to the center position, and the sensors indicated that Riad’s hand was on the steering wheel both leading up to and at the time of the collision. The data also showed that the brakes were not applied in the six minutes leading up to the crash. Riad could only recall the deployment of airbags and smoke before he was taken to the hospital.

Riad’s defense attorney argued that any negligence by his client would have resulted in a mere citation had the fatal crash not occurred. However, the judge rejected this argument, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the importance of accountability for drivers using advanced driver-assistance systems.

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