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.
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.