Unsafe Feature: Tesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's Screen Even While Driving

Tesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's Screen 6 photos
Photo: Tesla
Tesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's ScreenTesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's ScreenTesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's ScreenTesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's ScreenTesla Drivers Can Play Video Games on the Car's Screen
Tesla drivers can play video games on the car's screen even while driving. Apparently, it is a feature meant to help keep the front passenger busy on the road.
Modern infotainment systems have already raised concerns about their capacity to distract drivers. Cramping even more functions into the central screen is sure to make matters worse, especially when dedicated buttons are replaced with software functions hidden behind a complicated menu structure. Now, car manufacturers try to convince us that playing games inside the car is the best thing you can do while stuck in traffic.

An over-the-air update pushed by Tesla this summer added the possibility to play games while the car is in motion. The titles include “Solitaire”, the jet fighter game “Sky Force Reloaded” and the strategy game “The Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise.” Although the feature is meant for the passenger, the driver can benefit, too, as long as he (falsely) confirms that he is the passenger. There is no other check in place to prevent the driver from posing as a passenger, unfortunately.

Solitaire is a game for everyone but playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers" is the message that appears on the central infotainment display when someone tries to play Solitaire while the car is in motion. This indicates that Tesla is aware that the game is playable while the car moves, as well as the potential safety threat it poses. Even if the game is played by the passenger, it is impossible for the driver not to look at the screen to see what is happening during the drive, writes The New York Times.

This is an incredibly unsafe feature, as distracted driving is one of the major causes of accidents. According to NHTSA, distracted driving took more than 3,000 lives in 2019 alone in the U.S. Many infotainment systems require drivers’ attention too long at a time, and even voice-activated systems are not completely harmless.

Most automakers lock the touchscreen and certain infotainment functions while the car is in motion. For instance, many infotainment systems allow for DVD playback on the dashboard screen in some vehicles, but only when the car is parked. In fact, NHTSA guidelines mandate that cars with infotainment devices should prevent drivers from carrying out “inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.”

Tesla, on the other hand, seems to be going in the opposite direction. The company recently added more games to its infotainment systems. Moreover, even though these games were at first playable only when the car was stationary, the situation has changed in the past months. The problem is worse for Tesla than for others because the Autopilot system pushed a lot of drivers to take their eyes off the road and onto more distracting activities.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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