EV manufacturer, Tesla has succumbed to pressure to stop video games playing on centre touch screens when its vehicles are in motion.
U.S transportation agency, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that the a software update would be sent over the internet by the company, meaning the ‘Passenger Play’ option will remain locked when vehicles are in motion.
This is coming a day after the NHTSA announced the launch of a formal investigation into legitimate concerns of how Tesla video games distract drivers, with some of them being played while cars are being driven.
A statement by NHTSA spokesman indicated the change came after regulators highlighted the concerns of the system with Tesla, with the first update out on Wednesday, being a part of the Holiday software release from Tesla, while the remaining vehicles will have the update today.
According to the agency, the investigation of the feature by Tesla will continue despite the update but it was not clear if the NHTSA will compel Tesla to do a formal recall with the update. It would be recalled that the agency had in the past queried Tesla, asking why the company should not be required to do recalls with safety-related software updates.
Part of the NHTSA statement read:
“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 further noted how manufacturers pinpoint and guard against distraction hazards due to misuse or intended use of screens and other convenience technology.
After Vince Patton, a 59-year old Tesla car owner from the Portland, Oregon, area filed a complaint when he noticed drivers could play games with the car in motion, NHTSA announced it would formally investigate Tesla’s screens, with the agency adding that the “Passenger Play” feature could distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.
The NHTSA probe affect about 580,000 Tesla Models S, X, Y and 3 made from the 2017 through 2022 model years.
The agency in a document analysing the investigation said the ‘Passenger Play’ feature has been in use since December 2020 but noted that prior to that, enabling gameplay was only possible when its vehicles were in park, but NHTSA fell short of listing crashes or injuries caused by the problem.
Patton had November 2021 filed the complaint after he noted that the gaming feature could be played by drivers, though he noted that he loves his car and has nothing against the Tesla brand but is concerned that drivers will play games and become dangerously distracted. “Somebody’s going to get killed,” he said. “It’s absolutely insane.”