Tesla driving playing video games: NHTSA opens investigation
DETROIT – Last August, Vince Patton watched a YouTube video about a Tesla The owner made an amazing comment: Tesla drivers can now play video games on their car’s touchscreen dashboard – while the car is in motion.
Curious to see with his own eyes, Patton drove his own car 2021 Tesla Model 3 arrived at an empty community college parking lot, activated a game called “Sky Force Reloaded” from a menu and do a few loops.
Patton, 59, a retired journalist who lives near Portland, Oregon, said: “I was just stunned that, yes, this complicated video game came out.
He also tried Solitaire and was able to activate it while driving. Then he found he could browse the internet while the car was in motion.
Patton, who loves his car and says he has nothing against Tesla, worries that drivers will play games and become dangerously distracted.
“Someone’s going to be killed,” he said, “That’s completely insane.”
That’s why at the beginning of last month, Patton decided to file a complaint with National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationgovernment road safety agency.
“NHTSA It is necessary to ban all front-seat live video and all live interactive web browsing while the vehicle is in motion,” Patton wrote in his complaint. “Creating a dangerous distraction for drivers is reckless negligence.”
On Wednesday, NHTSA confirmed that it was looking into the matter. The news of Patton’s complaint was First report on Tuesday of the New York Times.
“We are aware of driver concerns and are discussing this feature with the manufacturer,” an NHTSA spokesperson wrote in an email. “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects that pose an undue risk to safety.”
The spokesperson declined to provide more details about their conversations with Tesla. The agency has not opened a formal investigation, which will involve requests for documents and other details. Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations division, did not respond to messages from the Associated Press.
The NHTSA investigation marks the latest in a growing list of possible violations involving car technology is being considered by two federal agencies as a potential safety risk.
The government is reviewing Tesla’s Autopilot partially autonomous driving system, as well as its “Full Self-Driving” software system, which is being tested by select owners on public roads. Also, since it increases surveillance under President Joe Biden, NHTSA is investigating software updates over the internet to fix safety issues, and Tesla the battery Fire.
In its statement, NHTSA said that it continues to study distraction while driving and that it has issued voluntary guidelines to automakers to determine if a particular mandate has an impact. to the driver’s attention or not.
“If a mission does not meet the acceptance criteria,” the statement said, “NHTSA guidelines recommend that the driver cannot perform the task while driving.”
The agency notes that crashes involving distracted drivers killed more than 3,100 people in 2019, accounting for about 9% of all traffic deaths in the US. But safety experts say distracted driving failure is calculated low.
It’s not clear how long Tesla allowed the game to be played while the vehicles were in motion. But Patton said a software update he noticed over the summer may have started allowing drivers to use “Sky Force Reloaded”. The game involves rockets and lasers that can shoot at objects, he noted.
Before video games could be activated while the vehicle was in motion, drivers were asked if they were passengers and had to click a button indicating they were. But Patton said there seems to be no way for Tesla to confirm that fact.
“If you are alone in the car,” he says, a driver can lie and still be able to play while driving.
“It’s not much of a safety barrier,” he said.
Even if only one passenger is playing the game, Patton says, it can still distract the driver because the game takes up about two-thirds of the touchscreen. It also makes it harder for drivers to see warnings and control windshield defrosting, he said.
Previously, Patton said, the game could only be played while the car was parked. Many drivers use them while waiting to recharge their batteries at Tesla’s Supercharger stations, he said.
Jason Levine, executive director of the nonprofit Car Safety Center, in an email said NHTSA has the authority to declare the cars defective and seek recalls.
Levine writes: “There is little question that having a large screen next to the driver so that the driver or passenger can play video games while the vehicle is in motion is an unnecessary risk for the driver. safety. “Recent statements from NHTSA indicate that this feature violates both the spirit and text of NHTSA’s driver distraction guidelines and the law.”
Tesla’s Autopilot system has been abused by drivers in the past, who interfered with Tesla’s steering detection system. In one case, a California driver was arrested in the backseat of the vehicle after it rolled down the freeway.
After investigating two fatal crashes involving Autopilot, National Traffic Safety Board suggested that Tesla install a camera system to make sure drivers were paying attention. The agency said in October that Tesla has not officially responded.
Tesla has said that, despite their name, Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” are only driver assistance systems and cannot be self-driving. It says drivers must always be attentive and ready to act.