When we covered the first video games available on Tesla’s center console video screen in 2019, we noted that the feature only worked when the car was parked. Now, however, these Tesla games can apparently be played even when the car is in motion, a feature that could violate National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines and state laws designed to combat distraction. driving.
While the ability to play Tesla games outside of Park is highlighted in a New York Times report today, the change was apparently implemented months ago. A YouTube video from January shows Solitaire be played on a Tesla screen while the car is in autopilot mode, for example (although other games appear to not work on autopilot in the same video).
In another video posted in July, a Tesla owner shows off a space shoot-em-up Celestial Force Reloaded playing while the car is in driving mode. This video indicates that the new capability has been added as an unannounced feature in July firmware update 2021.12.25.6.
While Tesla also added the ability to stream video services like Netflix and Hulu to the car’s center console in 2019, those services are still completely disabled when a Tesla is not parked (although some owners have tried to find ways around this limitation). “When fully autonomous driving is approved by regulators, we will enable video on the go,” said Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla. tweeted before this streaming video deployment.
When it comes to games, however, Tesla’s software now notes the possibility of titles running while the car is moving. “The use of Touch Arcade while the vehicle is in motion is for passengers only,” reads a warning that appears before a game is launched in the second video. Users must confirm that the player is a passenger. “Please check local laws before playing,” the warning reads.
Laws and regulations
These “local laws” seem to run counter to the idea of having a game running while a car is in motion, even if the driver is not the one playing. A 2014 Consumer Electronics Association roundup found “video screen restriction” laws in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Although specific laws vary, most regulations focus on the operation of “television” screens that are visible to the driver while the car is in motion (California law more broadly restricts the use of any “video monitor. or a video screen or other similar device which displays a video signal ”).
NHTSA also suggests that showing active play on a Tesla’s center console is likely to be a significant distraction for drivers. The agency’s 2013 “distraction guidelines” (PDF) suggest that “displaying non-driving images or videos” on a monitor visible to the driver “will inherently interfere with the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle. safely “.
NHTSA specifically calls any display “video and continuous moving images” and includes “items such as video telephone calls and other forms of video communication, as well as pre-recorded video footage and television” as examples of what to deactivate when a car is in motion.
Admittedly, these laws and safety instructions do not specifically mention video games on an on-board screen. But that’s probably because the concept of games playable on a car’s center console wasn’t even considered when the laws were written. However, video games are specifically mentioned in a handful of laws targeting cell phone use while driving.
“It’s a big concern if he’s playing in the driver’s view, that’s for sure,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the New York Times of the on-screen games of the. console of a car. It is an issue that “requires NHTSA to provide guidance and regulation,” he added.
Tesla has recently come under criticism for dangerous failures in its “autopilot” system, including many in which a distracted driver was not actively monitoring the car as required. Last year, police filed a complaint against a North Carolina man watching a movie on his phone when his autopilot-compatible car crashed into a police car. And forensic data from a fatal Tesla crash in 2018 suggests the driver may have played a mobile game Three kingdoms when his autopilot-driven car crashed into a concrete lane divider.
List image by YouTube / Cf Tesla