Tesla has been under fire recently, following the introduction of a new function back in 2020, that allowed the passenger to play on the on-board screen, while the car was in motion. Understandably, such a feature raised a few eyebrows, as it could easily distract the driver and lead to serious accidents. Even though it took them almost a full year to look into the matter, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally started an investigation a few months back.
According to an NHTSA report, the capability was enabled last year and is now available on 580,000 Tesla vehicles built as far back as 2017. The investigation covered all current models and sought to establish whether or not playing video games while driving is a distraction for the driver. That may seem like the biggest no-brainer of all time, but it’s worth noting that the NHTSA report makes no mention of drivers playing games. Because the system is termed Passenger Play, it’s safe to assume that the passenger is having the most fun. But could that be enough to cause the motorist to become distracted?
The thing is, in order to enable Passenger Play, all you have to do is press a button on the screen that confirms you’re a passenger. That could easily be done by the driver, who could then simply play as the car uses FSD or Autopilot, leading to a very dangerous scenario overall. As a matter of fact, the first warning about it came from an owner, who notified the NHTSA about the feature and prompted this response from the authority.
This week though, Tesla announced that it will change the functionality of this feature. “Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play,’ Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature,” the NHTSA confirmed in a statement to The New York Times. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion.”