Responding to demands from US auto safety regulators, Tesla agreed to stop allowing video games to run on the center touch screens of its cars while they are in motion.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the company will send a software update over the Internet so that the feature called “Passenger Play” is blocked and does not work while vehicles are in motion.
Infotainment screens will not be able to play games while the car is moving
An agency spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday that the change came after regulators discussed concerns about the system with Tesla. The first update came out on Wednesday as part of Tesla’s Christmas software release, and all other vehicles should get it today.
The statement says that the US highway authority regularly talks about infotainment displays with all automakers. Just last Thursday, a message was left seeking comment from Tesla, which has dissolved its media relations department.
The agency notes that its investigation of the Tesla property will continue even with the update. It was unclear if NHTSA would require Tesla to make a formal recall with the update. In the past, the agency has asked Tesla why it shouldn’t be required to make recalls with security-related software updates.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects that pose unreasonable safety risks, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely.”, noted in the NHTSA statement, collected by AP. The agency said it assesses how manufacturers identify and protect against distracting hazards due to misuse or intended use of displays and other convenience technologies.
The agency announced Wednesday that it would formally investigate Tesla displays after a Portland, Oregon-area owner filed a complaint when it discovered that a driver could play games while cars are moving.
Tesla owner Vince Patton, 59, filed the complaint last month after discovering that the gaming feature could be reproduced by drivers. Patton, who loves his car and says he has nothing against Tesla, worries about drivers playing games and getting dangerously distracted. “Someone is going to be killed,” he said. “It’s absolutely crazy.”
In documents detailing the investigation, the NHTSA said that “Passenger Play” has been available since December 2020. Before that, enabling the game was only possible when your vehicles were parked.
The move comes a day after the agency announced it would open a formal investigation into distracted driving concerns about Tesla’s video games, some of which could be played while driving cars.