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Trial Involving Tesla Autopilot Looks at Fault

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Nov. 16, 2022—A manslaughter trial that is taking place this week puts Tesla in the spotlight. 

According to The Guardian, Kevin George Aziz Riad of California is on trial for a 2019 fatal car crash caused by vehicle operating on an autopilot setting. It is important to note that Tesla does not face any charges in this case. 

Police said Riad was driving a Tesla Model S when he exited a freeway, ran a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic. At the time of the crash, Tesla’s autopilot system was in use. This system can be used to control speed, steering and braking. Gilberto Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez were inside the Honda Civic when Riad crashed into it, and they were killed.

This case has the potential to influence the way the public views autopilot technology and Tesla as a whole. The automaker has faced criticism recently over the potential role that autopilot plays in making drivers less attentive, which has led to crashes and even deaths in some cases.

For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating over a dozen Tesla crashes over a four-year period that impacted first responder vehicles that were parked. These Tesla crashes led to some injuries and one death. 

Additionally, the family of Gilberto Lopez is suing Tesla. This trial is scheduled for July 2023. Donald Slavik is an attorney with the firm that is representing the family. The Guardian reports that Slavik told Reuters he cannot say that the driver is not at fault, but the Tesla autopilot system and its spokespeople play a role in encouraging "drivers to be less attentive."

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