Not the Best Idea: New Tesla Update Lets You Play Games In-Car

Serena Aburahma
· 4 min read
Just when you thought drivers couldn't get any more distracted than they already are, Tesla has managed to raise the bar. The
electric car
giant recently made it possible for drivers to play video games while the car is in motion. Some see it as a potentially dangerous distraction and a threat to road safety.
The in-car video games are one of many examples where Tesla has all but ignored
distracted driving
statistics. This software update to the Tesla vehicle is rightly raising some eyebrows among driving safety advocates.
While Tesla does succeed in innovation, the concern over this new update is valid.

Taking on-the-road entertainment to a whole new level

Tesla's newest software release is supposed to allow passengers to play games like solitaire on its front console touchscreen. Up until this recent update, the vehicle had to be in a "park" to access the video games at all. Now games can be played while the car is in motion.
What is even more alarming is that drivers need to simply touch a button on the screen confirming their status as a passenger to gain access. Tesla did not include a verification method to stop the driver from participating, according to
The Drive
Pushing out features without solid safeguards in place is reckless at best. The future success and increase in
self-driving cars
might actually require more availability of entertainment features. But we aren't there yet and the streets are now a little less safe.
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Why is preventing distraction while driving so important?

Distracted driving is cited by the NHTSA as one of the major causes of automobile accidents and deaths every year. It was responsible for over 3000 road deaths in 2019. The
NHTSA's website
states that 8.7 percent of all crash fatalities that same year were due to various driver distractions. 
For automakers, it is one of many challenges to overcome when
considering road safety
. Most automobile companies seem to make an effort to go the extra mile to remove unnecessary distractions. Tesla, on the other hand, does not, despite the daunting statistics.
An article by
Business Insider
notes that General Motors and Ford both take extra precautions with their hands-free driving technology. They use infrared cameras to track drivers' movements for safety purposes. Drivers are also locked out of certain in-screen features while the car is on the road. These common-sense priorities are as responsible as they are smart.

Tesla is already under the watchful eye of the NHTSA

Tesla is no stranger to the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The
car company's Autopilot system
has been involved in several major crashes in recent years. The government agency is currently investigating 11 crashes involving Tesla's Autopilot system.
Infotainment and entertainment screens are also a focus of NHTSA's concern. Safety advocates suggest the real number of fatal crashes due to distracted drivers is even higher than the statistics say. It is a startling assumption the NHTSA cannot ignore.
Tesla's infotainment games have been available for a while. The automaker's move to make them functional while the car is in motion may not be the best idea it ever had. So far, access to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu is still locked. But it will be interesting to see just what the NHTSA thinks about playing games while driving.

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