Electric carmaker Tesla will stop allowing video games to be played on vehicle screens while its cars are moving, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Thursday.
The move follows an announcement by the NHTSA on Wednesday that it had opened a formal safety investigation on 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 over games being played on the front centre touchscreen while the cars are in motion.
This functionality, referred to as “Passenger Play,” may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash, the NHTSA has said.
Tesla has informed the NHTSA that a software update will lock the “Passenger Play” feature and make it unusable when the vehicle is in motion, a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.
“The NHTSA constantly assesses how manufacturers identify and safeguard against distraction hazards that may arise due to faults, misuse, or intended use of convenience technologies, including infotainment screens,” the agency said.
Safety Advocates Concerned
Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Safety advocates have raised concerns that drivers may not pay attention on the road, especially when Tesla vehicles are operating in semi-autonomous mode known as Autopilot.
NHTSA undertook the probe following a customer complaint earlier this year.
“Why is a manufacturer allowed to create an inherently distracting live video which takes over two-thirds of the screen which the driver relies on for all vehicle information,” a complainant from Lake Oswego, Oregon, asked.
“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.”
The agency said that in 2019, 3,142 people were killed in the US due to distracted driving, up from 2,841 people the previous year.
- George Russell with inputs from Reuters and AFP