Car Maker Tesla Turns Off the Ability to Play Games While Driving

Automaker Tesla will update its software to prevent drivers or passengers from playing video games on the car’s internal system while the vehicle is in motion. This is reported by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


The agency opened an investigation Wednesday, following a complaint from a driver, to determine the extent to which drivers are being distracted by Tesla’s “Passenger Play” application.

A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s “Passenger Play”, Tesla announced that it was already changing its functionality. A spokesperson for the NHTSA told the AFP news agency. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion,” the spokesperson added.

At Tesla itself, no one wanted to comment on the news for the time being. In total, some 580,000 Tesla cars sold between 2017 and 2022 were involved in the safety investigation. The cars are equipped with “Passenger Play” functionality, which allows video games to be played even when the vehicle is in motion. It seems that Tesla does not want to wait for the investigation results and is opting for the flight ahead.

The NHTSA investigation was opened after a complaint from a Tesla driver. In August, Vince Patton, a retired American journalist, saw a video on Youtube in which a “Tesla fanboy” showed how to play games in a moving car. “I was completely outraged; that is so incredibly dangerous,” said Patton.

The man wondered how it is that a car manufacturer is allowed to install applications that have a clear impact on the driver’s concentration and that also take up two-thirds of the screen that the driver needs to have all the information about his vehicle. “Because there was no way to contact Tesla myself about this, I filed a complaint,” said Patton.

“This option is likely to distract the driver and increase the risk of an accident,” the NHTSA warned. The agency indicates that the ability to play while driving will only be offered in equipped models since December 2020. Previously, the function was only available when the car was stationary.

Distracted drivers are one of the main reasons for increasing traffic fatalities in the United States. That writes the American newspaper The New York Times. The US Department of Transportation estimates that 20,160 people were killed in traffic accidents in the first six months of this year. According to The New York Times, that is the highest number since 2006. An inattentive or distracted driver would cause the accident in 10 percent of the cases.

However, safety experts believe that the true proportion of distracted drivers in road accidents is much higher. “Distraction is often overlooked in crash investigations, sometimes too quickly about other things like reckless driving,” said Steve Kiefer of General Motors in The New York Times. According to Kiefer, the actual share would rather be around fifty percent.

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