Tesla reversed course on Thursday and will no longer allow video games on cars’ touchscreens while they’re in motion, ahead of an investigation into the feature by safety regulators. federation of the United States.
“After opening a preliminary review of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play’ feature, Tesla has informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of the feature,” a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board said. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and cannot be used while the vehicle is in motion.”
Documents for the investigation, revealed Wednesday by NHTSA, say the feature, called “Passengers Play,” has been available to drivers since December 2020. The games appear on screens. Large touch screen in the center of the dashboard. According to documents related to the investigation, although the name suggests it is intended for passenger play, there is nothing to prevent the driver from playing while the vehicle is being driven, according to documents related to the accident. investigate.
NHTSA’s investigation document states that, before December 2020, the game was only activated when the vehicle was parked. According to NHTSA, even if the game is being played by a passenger rather than the driver, it “can distract the driver and increase the risk of a collision”.
The agency’s investigation generated widespread media coverage on Thursday before Tesla agreed to change the game’s settings.
The agency said: “NHTSA continuously evaluates how manufacturers identify and protect against distraction threats that can arise from error, misuse or intentional use of technologies. convenience, including the infotainment screen”.
Tesla has been pushing to offer driver-assist features that allow its vehicles to slow down, accelerate, and even change lanes without the need for active driver involvement.
The company warns that drivers who use such features, known as “Autopilot” and “FSD,” for full self-driving, must stay alert and keep the steering wheel. But Tesla has been criticized for easily distracting drivers, as well as for a number of accidents involving cars in Autopilot mode.
NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla for at least 11 crashes involving vehicles using Autopilot or other Tesla self-driving features that collided with emergency vehicles on arrival at the scene of a previous crash. According to the agency, 11 accidents have caused 17 injuries and one death.
US regulators are highlighting distracted driving as a major safety hazard on US roads. NHTSA estimates that 3,142 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019.
The Passenger Play investigation began following a complaint filed in November by an unidentified Tesla owner. The complaint states that the feature allows playing video games and browsing the web while the vehicle is being driven.
“Video games are believed to be restricted to passengers only. Browsing is available to anyone at any time,” the complaint says. “Why should a manufacturer be allowed to create an inherently distracting live video that takes up two-thirds of the screen that a driver relies on for all of the vehicle’s information? NHTSA needs to ban all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the vehicle is in motion. Creates dangerous distraction for the driver from reckless negligence.”
Tesla, which rarely responds to questions from the media, did not respond to requests for comment on the poll or the video game feature.