Tesla Under Investigation For Potential Gaming While Driving [Update]

Tesla Under Investigation For Potential Gaming While Driving [Update]
Image: AP Photo / David Zalubowski

The inevitable has happened in the world of Playing Video Games On A Tesla’s User Interface.

There are many things that Tesla cars have that other cars don’t. This becomes apparent when having a conversation with anybody who owns a Tesla and is foaming at the mouth to talk about it. Notably, Teslas come equipped with an arcade, playable on the iPad-like interface that sits on front of the driver and passenger. It is referred to as “Passenger Play”, which pushes the idea that only passengers should be playing the games.

While it used to be that the arcade could only be accessed while the car was in park, an update was brought in to allow these games to be played while the car is in motion. For passengers, of course. However, according to a recent report from The Verge, nothing actually stops drivers from playing these games while the car is in motion. It comes up with an “I AM A PASSENGER” option, which is about as effective as an “I AM OVER 18” option for a curious teenager going on an explicit website.

This is obviously incredibly dangerous, and we’d like to assume that a driver isn’t dumb enough to play a video game while driving a car. The issue is that it’s possible. As well as this, the interface displays vital information needed by the driver so having half the screen taken up by a game like Sky Force Reloaded (even if it’s the passenger playing) is a risky distraction.

Vince Patton playing games in his Tesla.
Vince Patton playing games in his Tesla. Image: AP Photo / Gillian Flaccus

Evidently, an investigation has been launched by the US National Highways and Traffic Safety Administration after Vince Patton, a Tesla Model 3 owner, submitted a complaint about the arcade system. After seeing a YouTube video of someone playing while driving, Patton tried it out for himself (successfully). Speaking to the LA Times about his discovery and complaint, Patton said, “I was just dumbfounded that, yes, sure enough, this sophisticated video game came up.”

In his complaint, Patton states, “NHTSA needs to prohibit all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the car is in motion. Creating a dangerous distraction for the driver is recklessly negligent.”

It really feels like this was coming all along. With countless accidents being attributed to driver distractions and well-known laws against drivers using their phones while driving, it makes complete sense that an advisory body for road safety has seen the possibility of a driver or even a passenger playing Sonic The Hedgehog while the car is in motion as a bad idea.

Update: According to The Guardian, Tesla has agreed to disable gaming while driving in their vehicles. The NHTSA says the company will be sending out a software update over the internet that will disallow the “Passenger Play” feature on the central touch screen while the cars are in motion. This means that gaming on a Tesla will once again only be accessible while the car is parked.


  • “…and we’d like to assume that a driver isn’t dumb enough to play a video game while driving a car.”

    You’re talking about gamers, here. Never underestimate.

    • In the car they promised people were not dumb enough to activate self driving mode, while no one was in the front seat.

      I won’t be surprised if the vehicle regulators dint bring I’m software update certification program soon.

      An open road full of moronic drivers is NOT a beta program.

    • I’ll be happy to let people be responsible for their own actions the minute that being irresponsible doesn’t result in them killing other people in the process.

      • This is the real problem isn’t it? I don’t think anyone would say someone dumb enough to play games while driving (especially if described as above taking up half the screen) isn’t responsible for whatever happens to THEM, but often the car will protect them from injury, but the same can’t be said for pedestrians/motorcylists, etc.

  • People have been putting TVs and gaming systems in cars since the 90s. Better take out the cupholders too, someone might eventually think of putting an alcoholic drink in them.

  • The games don’t cover up half the screen, they cover the whole thing (including the speedometer). So unless you have modified your Tesla, any game playing will mean you don’t know what speed you are doing. Also, since autopilot certainly doesn’t always get the speed right (can’t yet understand contextual speed limit signage such as trucks only, school zones etc.) you can’t even rely on this feature to “get you by”.

  • This reminds of the guy they caught who had a bunch of phones against his windscreen and was playing Pokemon Go on all of them at the same time while driving.

    • Animated billboards that you driove past in seconds are nothing like an in-car computer game that the driver can play for a whole trip straight instead of driving.

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