Tesla to Disable Gaming While Vehicle Is Moving

NHTSA has launched an investigation of 'Passenger Play' feature
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2021 5:07 AM CST
Tesla to Disable Gaming While Vehicle Is Moving
Vince Patton, a new Tesla owner, demonstrates on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, on a closed course in Portland, Ore., how he can play video games on the vehicle's console while driving.   (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

(Newser) – Tesla has released a software update that will block drivers from playing video games on the front touch screen while their vehicle is in motion. Tesla announced the move after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation of the "Passenger Play" feature, the Wall Street Journal reports. An agency spokeswoman said Thursday that Tesla made the change after regulators raised concerns, reports the AP. The agency says Passenger Play "will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion," though its formal investigation of the feature will continue.

The investigation was launched after Tesla owner Vince Patton filed a complaint, warning that he was able to play games on the touch screen while driving. "I only did it for like five seconds and then turned it off," he told the New York Times. "I’m astonished. To me, it just seems inherently dangerous." An update added in December allowed games including solitaire, Sky Force Reloaded, and The Battle of Polytopia to be played on the console while the vehicle was in motion. Drivers could play by simply clicking a button that asked them to confirm they were a passenger.

The NHTSA said that while there have been no reports of crashes caused by drivers playing the games, the feature could be a dangerous distraction. "The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely,” the agency, which was already investigating crashes linked to Tesla's Autopilot system, said in a statement. (Read more Tesla stories.)

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