Tesla Won’t Allow Drivers Play Video Games in Cars After Probe

Tesla Won't Allow Drivers Play Video Games in Cars Following Federal Probe

Tesla has announced that it will no longer allow drivers to play video games on its cars’ touchscreens when they are in motion as a response to an ongoing investigation by federal safety regulators.

According to a CNN Business news report, after the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s “Passenger Play,” Tesla informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will change the functionality of the feature and that in the new software update, “Passenger Play” will be locked and unusable when the vehicle is moving.

Video Games Can Distract Drivers

“Passenger Play” has been available to Tesla drivers since December 2020. The video games appear on the large touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. While the name suggests it is meant to be played only by passengers, there were no safeguards in place to prevent drivers from playing while the car is being driven. Before December 2020, the gameplay was enabled only when the vehicle was in park.

But NHTSA expressed concern in its documents that even when played only by a passenger, the video game feature had the potential to distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.

Scrutiny on Safety

These types of features have come under even closer scrutiny as the company is facing a federal investigation over its driver-assist feature, Autopilot, and concerns over its newly released “Full Self Driving” or FSD system. In both cases, the automaker says drivers must stay vigilant and keep their hands on the wheel. However, several studies including a recent one by Consumer Reports, showed that Tesla made it easier for drivers to not pay attention.

The automaker has been criticized for a number of crashes involving vehicles in Autopilot mode. NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla for at least 11 accidents involving cars where Autopilot was engaged that collided with emergency vehicles. Those 11 crashes were responsible for 17 injuries and one death, officials said. The investigation into “Passenger Play” video games started after a complaint in November by a Tesla owner.

Preventing Distracted Driving

It is alarming that Tesla kept this feature available to both drivers and passengers in its vehicles. It is particularly concerning because of the volume of YouTube videos out there showing Tesla drivers showing off their Autopilot by engaging in activities ranging from reading to sleeping while the feature is engaged. Tesla should take every possible action to prevent such in-vehicle distractions and provide the necessary safeguards, and removing the option to play video games while driving is an important step.

Distracted driving is not just harmful to the vehicle occupants, but also for others using the roadway.


Source: https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/23/tech/tesla-safety-probe-drivers-play-video-games/index.html

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