Tesla has agreed to halt its in-car gaming functionality following pressure from the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Some Tesla models allowed drivers to access games from the dashboard while the vehicle was in motion.
The Passenger Play feature, which started in 2017, previously worked only if a vehicle was stationary.
But since December 2020 the feature has been accessible even when the car is driving, which the NHTSA believes could be distracting for drivers and has the potential to cause crashes.
A formal investigation was opened after a driver complained to the regulator about the feature, calling it ‘recklessly negligent’.
The Passenger Play feature was enabled to be used on the widescreen infotainment display for use by the front seat passenger.
The NHTSA said more than 580,000 Tesla vehicles in the United States alone were equipped with Passenger Play.
Tesla has now decided it will disable the feature, meaning it cannot be used when the vehicle is in motion.
It made the decision before the investigation could be completed, beating the NHTSA to the punch.
Data from the NHTSA shows drivers losing focus on the road was the cause of 3,142 deaths in the US in 2019, with offices believing it’s likely the actual figure is much higher.
While the gaming system did have a notice saying it was only for passengers, the regulator did not believe that was a big enough deterrent and made it safe for the system to be used while the car was in motion.
A passenger simply had to tap an ‘I am a passenger’ message to access the games, which was not considered enough to prevent drivers from using it.
Guidelines from the NHTSA say all in-vehicle features should be designed so they are unable to be used by a driver while the vehicle is moving.
This week Tesla was also forced to recall more than 475,000 of its Model 3 and Model S electric cars due to issues with the rearview camera and trunk issues which increased the risk of crashing.
The rearview cameras had the potential to be damaged by the opening and closing of the boot on the car, which meant they wouldn’t display properly.