A man who killed two people driving his 2016 Model S Tesla in Dec. 2019 is likely the first person to be charged with vehicular manslaughter while using an automated driving system.

Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, collided with a Honda Civic in Gardena, California after running through a red light, killing Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez.

The civil case names Riad and Tesla Motors as the plaintiffs as Riaz was driving at an “excessively high rate of speed” when the deadly crash occurred. Riad and a female passenger in his car were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Riad's attorney did not respond to requests for comment, according to the Associated Press.

Riad has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently out on bail with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 23. The case could present a wake-up call for those who drive automated vehicles, according to Alain Kornhauser, director of the self-driving car program at Princeton University.  

“It certainly makes us, all of a sudden, not become so complacent in the use of these things that we forget about the fact that we’re the ones that are responsible — not only for our own safety but for the safety of others,” Kornhauser told the Los Angeles Times. 

Kornhauser noted that automated features like Autopilot, SuperCruise, and ProPilot can mislead drives into thinking the cars are more capable than what they really are. The National Highway and Safety Administration opened an investigation into the deadly crash and is soon expected to post its findings. The agency has previously reported no vehicle today can be completely driven by itself. According to Tesla, its cars are classified as “level 2” vehicle autonomy, meaning a driver can take control at any time. 

“Whether a [Level 2] 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,” an NHTSA spokesperson said.

An estimated 765,000 Tesla vehicles equipped with self-driving technology have been built from 2014 to 2021.