Tesla Decided to Disable Its Gaming Feature While the Car Is on the Move

After recent evaluations over complaints.
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Tesla's Passenger Play lets passengers play games while in motion.Tesla

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that Tesla has agreed to stop letting people play games on center touch screens while the vehicles are in motion.

NHTSA of the U.S. Department of Transportation has opened a preliminary evaluation (PE) into 580,000 Tesla cars sold in the U.S. since 2017 over the 'Passenger Play' feature, that lets passengers play games on vehicles touch screens, on December 23.

The evaluation that will be focused on certain Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Y vehicles from 2017-2022 was announced just two weeks after the federal agency said that it was gathering information or evidence that Tesla’s in-car video games are a violation of the Vehicle Safety Act in a statement on December 8.

The Passenger Play feature on Tesla cars allows passengers to play Tesla Arcade games including solitaire, a jet fighter game named Sky Force Reloaded, and a conquest strategy game, Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise, even while the vehicle is in motion. Even though the feature is intended for passengers to play, what stops drivers away from gaming while driving is a mere pop-up warning that says only passengers were allowed to play games while the car is in motion and a follow-up confirmation box to make sure that the user is a passenger.

“Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play’, Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature. In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion” said the safety agency in a statement, which does not come as a shock as Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that no other CEO was concerned about user safety as much as him. 

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The NHTSA issued guidelines to encourage carmakers “to factor safety and driver distraction-prevention into their designs and adoption of infotainment devices in vehicles" back in 2013. The guidelines “recommend that in-vehicle devices be designed so that they cannot be used by the driver to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving”, the agency said.

The NHTSA previously requested Tesla to recall approximately 158,000 vehicles due to media control unit failures back in January this year and started an investigation over 765,000 Tesla vehicles regarding their Autopilot systems after a series of accidents involving parked emergency systems and vehicles that happened in August.