Tesla to stop letting drivers play video games after federal inquiry

“After opening a preliminary assessment of Tesla’s Passenger Play, Tesla informed the agency that it was changing the functionality of this feature,” a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday evening. . “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion.”

Documentation from the investigation, released by NHTSA on Wednesday, indicates that the feature, known as “Passenger Play,” has been available to drivers since December 2020. Games appear on the large touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. edge. While the name suggests it is meant to be played by passengers, there was nothing preventing drivers from playing while the car was in motion, according to documentation associated with the investigation.

Prior to December 2020, the game was only activated when the vehicle was parked, according to the NHTSA investigation document. Even if the game is played by a passenger and not by the driver, it “can distract the driver and increase the risk of an accident,” according to the NHTSA.

The agency’s investigation generated widespread media coverage Thursday ahead of Tesla’s deal to change the settings for games.

“NHTSA is continually evaluating how manufacturers identify and protect against the risks of distraction that may arise from defects, misuse, or intended use of convenience technologies, including infotainment displays,” the agency said.

Tesla has pushed the boundaries by providing driver assistance features that allow its cars to slow down, speed up and even change lanes without the active participation of the driver.

The company warns that drivers using such features, known as “autopilot” and “FSD,” for fully autonomous driving, should remain alert and keep their hands on the wheel. But Tesla has come under fire for making it easier for drivers to overlook attention, as well as for a number of crashes involving cars on autopilot.
NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla in at least 11 crashes involving cars using its autopilot or other autonomous driving features that collided with emergency vehicles in a previous crash. These 11 accidents were responsible for 17 injuries and one death, according to the agency.
US regulators highlight distracted driving as a major safety risk 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 says the feature makes it possible to play video games and browse the web while the car is being driven.

“Video games are said to be limited to passengers. Web browsing is accessible to anyone at any time,” the complaint said. “Why is a manufacturer allowed to create a fundamentally distracting live video that takes up 2/3 of the screen that the driver relies on for all vehicle information?” The NHTSA must ban all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the car is in motion. To create a dangerous distraction for the driver is reckless negligence.

You’re here (TSLA), who rarely responds to questions from the media, did not respond to a request for comment on the probe or the video game feature.

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