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Tesla Driver Charged in Automobile Collision for Killing Two 2 People While on Autopilot

NPR recently reported of a felony charge for the driver of a Tesla Model S in California, who was operating the vehicle in autopilot back in 2019 when it ran a red light and struck and killed two people in another vehicle. This charge is the first of its kind in the U.S., being against a driver using a “partially automated driving system.”

We are extremely disheartened to hear of this preventable automobile collision. Over the last several years, the use of Autopilot has caused numerous collisions as drivers make the assumption that they don’t need to be aware or even awake while operating with the system in place. Tesla itself has been one of the biggest contributors with an estimated 765,000 vehicles across the nation having Autopilot technology. Investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board have cited 26 Autopilot-related Tesla crashes and 11 deaths since 2016. NPR adds that “last May, a California man was arrested after officers noticed his Tesla moving down a freeway with the man in the back seat and no one behind the steering wheel.”

While Tesla has responded saying that Autopilot and other similar systems should be utilized with drivers paying attention and being ready to react to emergencies, federal safety regulators are investigating the grand misuse of the technology. Legal officials have speculated whether Tesla itself could soon be charged with putting “dangerous technology on the road” due to this felony charge being the first of its kind after so many years of crashes, as well as investigations that have found instances in which a Tesla on Autopilot “ran into several parked emergency vehicles” in a dozen separate cases. The family of one of the victims killed in the above-mentioned crash also filed a separate lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the vehicle “suddenly and unintentionally accelerated to an excessive, unsafe and uncontrollable speed.”

We want to remind drivers everywhere to always pay attention, and more importantly, awake even while using any kind of automated driving technology. Automobile collisions like this one, and all of the past Autopilot-related incidents, are preventable and should never occur. Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, you are entitled to driving on safe roads.

Learn more about dealing with an automobile collision and insurance on our Automobile Collisions Practice Area page.

GLP Attorneys has been fighting for victims of driver negligence for over 30 years and we are here to help. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an automobile collision, contact us today for a free lawyer consultation so we can get you the justice you deserve.

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