The Times podcast: When cars on autopilot crash — and kill

Tesla electric SUV crash
In this March 23, 2018, photo, emergency personnel work at the scene where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, Calif. The National Transportation Safety Board says the SUV driver, who died in the crash, was playing a video game on his smartphone. Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at a 2020 hearing that partly automated driving systems like Tesla’s Autopilot cannot drive themselves. Yet he says drivers continue to use them without paying attention.
(KTVU-TV via Associated Press)

A first-of-it’s kind case in Los Angeles County is going to play a big role in determining culpability whenever self-driving cars get into accidents. Prosecutors have charged a driver with felony manslaughter after his Tesla crashed into a car in 2019, killing two people. The accused was in the driver’s seat, but prosecutors say his Tesla … was on autopilot.


Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: L.A. Times business reporter Russ Mitchell

More reading:

A Tesla on autopilot killed two people in Gardena. Is the driver guilty of manslaughter?

Are self-driving cars safe? Highway regulator orders industry to cough up the data

Why do Tesla cars keep crashing into emergency response vehicles? Federal safety agency is investigating

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra, Shannon Lin and Kasia Broussalian and producers Melissa Kaplan, Ashlea Brown and Angel Carreras. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmín Aguilera and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.