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Tesla is discussing video game features with the NHTSA

Credit: Tesla

Tesla is discussing video games and how they can be used for entertainment with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency confirmed this morning.

The NHTSA told Teslarati in a statement this morning that it is “discussing the feature with the manufacturer,” attempting to gather any information or evidence that Tesla’s in-car video games are a violation of the Vehicle Safety Act, which prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects posing unreasonable risks to safety.

“Safety is central to NHTSA’s mission and we are committed to improving safety for all road users. Distraction-affected crashes are a concern, particularly in vehicles equipped with an array of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens. We are aware of driver concerns and are discussing the feature with the manufacturer,” the NTHSA said.

The discussion between Tesla and the NHTSA is likely in response to a piece from The New York Times published earlier this week. The article, titled “A New Tesla Safety Concern: Drivers Can Play Video Games in Moving Cars,” alleged drivers in Teslas are capable of playing games instead of paying attention to the road. However, this is a misconception of the company’s in-car entertainment features and a misrepresentation of Tesla’s safety features, which monitor driver behavior during vehicle operation.

Teslas use a cabin camera monitoring system to keep tabs on the driver and maintain that their attention is on the road at all times. Ultimately, the drivers are responsible for keeping up their end of the deal and maintaining their eyes and attention on the task at hand. Let’s not forget: driving is a privilege, not a right, and drivers, unfortunately, regardless of vehicle, will look at cell phones or find other ways to be distracted. Distracted driving is not exclusive to Tesla. The NHTSA did state that in 2013, the agency issued guidelines to encourage OEMs to “factor safety and driver distraction prevention into their designs and adoption of infotainment devices in vehicles. These guidelines recommend that in-vehicle devices be designed so that they cannot be used by the driver to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.”

Tesla’s camera-based driver monitoring system goes through the cellphone test

Gaming is operational and accessible during driving operation, but it is only available to the person in the front passenger seat. Once again, Tesla’s cabin monitoring system, which activates when the vehicle is in Autopilot, monitors the driver’s eyes and records whether they remain vigilant and attentive during vehicle operation.

The NHTSA’s statement is available below:

“Safety is central to NHTSA’s mission and we are committed to improving safety for all road users. Distraction-affected crashes are a concern, particularly in vehicles equipped with an array of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens. We are aware of driver concerns and are discussing the feature with the manufacturer. The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects posing unreasonable risks to safety. 

In 2013 NHTSA issued guidelines to encourage OEMs to factor safety and driver distraction prevention into their designs and adoption of infotainment devices in vehicles. These guidelines recommend that in-vehicle devices be designed so that they cannot be used by the driver to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.

For all other visual-manual secondary tasks, the NHTSA guidelines specify a test method to evaluate whether a task interferes with driver attention, rendering it unsuitable for a driver to perform while driving. If a task does not meet the acceptance criteria, the NHTSA Guidelines recommend that the task be made inaccessible for performance by the driver while driving. NHTSA continues to research this important topic and will continue to work with State and local partners to combat distracted driving, which claimed 3,142 lives in 2019.”

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Tesla is discussing video game features with the NHTSA
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