As vehicle manufacturers seek to bring new technology to roadways, many of these advances seek to make drivers, passengers and others on the road safer. However, not every new feature protects the safety of people on the road. One such technological advancement has come under scrutiny for its potential to distract drivers: “Passenger Play” in Tesla vehicles.
“Passenger Play” allows expanded video game use in Tesla vehicles.
Tesla vehicles have long allowed video game use on the large touch screen integrated into the car’s console. Previous Tesla models only allowed video game usage while the vehicle was in park. However, more recent vehicles equipped with “Passenger Play” allowed game use on the console at other times. This feature even allowed game use with the car in motion.
The company included warnings that indicate that developers intended this feature to provide entertainment to passengers only. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently launched an investigation regarding the potential of this feature to distract drivers. This investigation includes the potential distractions related to playing games while driving.
Tesla responds to the NHTSA probe.
On December 23, Tesla responded to the NHTSA investigation. The company agreed to update vehicle software to disable game use while vehicles are in motion. This would prevent both drivers and passengers from gaming.
While Tesla agreed to update software in this case, this issue still raises questions about the potential of vehicle consoles to distract drivers. As technology advances, those advances may create new distractions for people behind the wheel and new risks for others on the road.