As Tesla expanded its growing list of touchscreen dashboard games last winter, the update inexplicably allowed drivers to play them while the electric car was in motion. Almost a year later, the US government finally asks the company why.
“We are aware of the driver’s concerns and discuss the function with the manufacturer,” the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Bloomberg Today. “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects that pose unreasonable safety risks.”
This news comes just 24 hours after the report New York Times brought the matter to light. Since the release of 2020.48.26 update in December 2020, three matches—Kabal, The Battle of Polytopia, and Sky Force reloaded, of which the latter arrived in one own update in July 2021 – has allowed users to play while the Tesla was in motion.
As noted by New York Times, Tesla seems to be aware of the problem. At startup Kabal, for example, a pop-up message warns that “playing while the car is in motion is for passengers only”, but the operating system does nothing to check who is playing the card game after the user confirms that they are not driving. It basically works with the honor system, like age-restricted sites that allow visitors to enter a fake birthday.
Add this constant, sometimes fatal problems with Tesla’s autopilot system, and it’s really starting to feel like these games are a disaster waiting to happen. According to NHTSA, over 3,000 Americans lost their lives in 2019 due to distracted driving.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously boasted about the gaming characteristics of his electric cars, and claimed during a presentation during the summer that they were able to play Cyberpunk 2077 thanks to “PlayStation 5-level” specifications.
“If you think about a future where the car is often in autopilot or self-driving mode, entertainment will become increasingly important,” Musk explained. “You’ll want to watch movies, play games, use the internet … things you want to do if you’re not driving.”