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Backlash as Tesla allows some games to be played when car is in motion

Distracted driving could be fatal. However, it appears Tesla is bent on testing how accurate the claim is, as a recent update from the automaker enables some games to be played while the car is in motion!

This move by Tesla has raised questions on how seriously Tesla takes the safety of the drivers and passengers in its cars. Before the update, all games remained inaccessible until the vehicle parked.

Tesla has made a feeble effort to prevent playing games while driving by making the games only available to non-drivers. However, the safety feature can easily be bypassed as the driver only has to click a button acknowledging he is not a driver.

Even when a passenger is playing, it will be in the full view of the driver, who could easily get distracted by looking at the screen.

Tesla has faced criticism before on how some of its car features endanger the safety of the car occupants and other road users. Its popular Autopilot system, which takes over the vehicle control, has drawn negative comments. Drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times, but the system can be easily fooled by a driver that wants to keep their hands away.

Autopilot still requires drivers to concentrate on the road, but the feature has been tied to not less than 12 road roads.

With the addition of playable games while the car is in motion, drivers can get carried away while Autopilot is engaged.

Distraction has been fingered as the culprit in many fatal road crashes in the US. During the first half of 2021, 20,106 lives have been lost in road accidents, more than 18 percent up from the same period in 2020. Inattention by the driver is responsible for about 10 percent of the total figure. However, the share might be higher as it is easy for crash investigators to name other causes even when inattention was the root.

Drivers usually get distracted during driving when using their phones, texting, or sending an email. Other drivers have been caught applying makeup or even reading a book. Car and software makers have tried methods to reduce the chances of drivers taking their eyes off the road, including enabling voice commands to do some of the things that would have taken the driver’s hands of the steering wheel.

With the popularity of in-car screens, carmakers have had to add extra caution to prevent the screen from being a source of distraction. For example, some cars that can play DVDs on the center screen will make the screen go black when the car starts moving. Other vehicles do not allow the driver to interact with the screen using touch.

For carmakers that offer autonomous driving, they do include an infrared camera for tracking the driver’s eyes. When it detects the driver is not paying attention to the road, it will give a warning or give control back to the driver.

Tesla has cameras in some of its cars that monitor the driver’s face, but they are limited when it is dark. The company has been advised by the National Transport Safety Board to use an infrared camera, but Tesla is yet to comply.

NHTSA has the task of ensuring car makers add safety features, but when it comes to in-vehicle entertainment, guidelines are not clear-cut. Carmakers are only asked to design the system to ensure that drivers cannot use them to “perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.”

Tesla seems to have complied until the 2021.12.25.6 update that allowed drivers access three games, including solitaire, Sky Force Reloaded, and The Battle of Polytopia: Moonrise while driving. When the solitaire game opens, it displays a message saying, “Solitaire is a game for everyone, but playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers.”

Some drivers who have noticed this have filed a complaint with the NHTSA online.

One Tesla owner expressed the fear of combining Autopilot and games, saying, “This is pretty dangerous. I’m sure somebody’s going to use Autopilot and then play solitaire while they’re on Autopilot. Take note of that, Tesla.”

Written by HackerVibes

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