Of Course Tesla is Under Investigation for Playing Games While Driving

Tesla is under investigation for allowing drivers to play video games while driving their cars. It's horrendously dangerous, and horrendously hilarious.
tesla gaming
Playing The Witcher 3 while driving? What could possibly go wrong? | © Tesla

So Tesla are under investigation for allowing drivers to drive whilst playing video games on the in-car screen that is meant for passengers. Some of the latest models of Tesla even boast the ability to play full-release games like The Witcher 3 (pictured above), rather than just little arcade games. Whilst technologically, this is pretty awesome (though insanely expensive), it's no surprise that it's an issue. I mean, after all, what would you rather do: drive your car or play video games? Now, it might also seem a little like this is a rich-kid problem, but we also want to note that if one of these drivers decide to play games, and they end up in a car crash, it won't just be him who's hurt.

In fact, Tesla's have such sophisticated safety features that the vehicle is far more likely to harm another person than the idiotic occupant of the vehicle... you know, the dude who caused the crash in the first case? Now, I can hear you all saying "But mate, aren't those cars self-driving?" The answer to this question would be "Yes, some of them are, but that is no excuse". In reality, that's really not an excuse to be ignoring the road. Self-driving technology is now very good, but in the same way that a pilot still needs to pay attention, despite the airplane's autopilot, a driver should still be focused intensely on the road. They certainly shouldn't be playing video games!

That's where the aforementioned investigation comes in. A recent report from The Verge revealed that modern Tesla's simply plop a message on the screen that you have to answer "I am a Passenger". Once you have confirmed this, you can play whatever video games the system has on it. All the driver would have to do is press that button and he/she could also play video games, even when he or she was driving. That's pretty frightening, and certainly cause for alarm, even with self-driving models. Unsurprisingly, due to this discovery, the United States National Highways and Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation.

The investigation did not come about due to The Verge's article, though, but instead in response to a Tesla owner who had spoken to the LA Times about his discovery that he could play "sophisticated video games" whilst driving. Vince Patton saw the offending behavior in a YouTube video before. Shocked, he tried it out himself. Whilst driving a Tesla Model 3, Patton was able to play video games whilst driving the car. This discovery led to his decision to report it, and make a complaint, to the NHTSA. He said the following:

NHTSA needs to prohibit all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the car is in motion. Creating a dangerous distraction for the driver is recklessly negligent.

The reckless negligence claim will need to be further investigated before it can be determined whether this does, in fact, constitute that particular offense. As it seems, though, it certainly seems like this function is severely problematic from a simple health and safety standpoint. The fact of the matter is that whilst I will not cast aspersions on the legality of these features – I am certainly not an American law expert – it certainly seems a little off that this has been allowed through by Tesla.

One of the number one causes of traffic-related accidents, apart from alcohol and fatigue, is distractions whilst driving. The risk with high-tech vehicles is that they lull you into a sense of safety, and this can prove fatal if people abuse the systems onboard. Ultimately the driver is to blame if they decide to play video games whilst driving and end up in an inevitable crash, but Tesla also has a responsibility to the public to make sure that this is not possible in their vehicles. I mean, if they have the tech to make cars self-drive, then surely they can program it so that the driver can't, under any circumstance, play video games whilst the car is in motion.

Of course, drivers are responsible for their actions, but that doesn't mean that you won't get a few idiots out there who will decide that it is perfectly okay to completely ignore the road and play The Witcher 3 at 120 kilometers per hour. That freakin' genius is going to hit someone, kill them, and that could have all been avoided. It's about harm mitigation, not personal freedoms, so it's a good thing that the NHTSA are investigating this. All that being said, though, it doesn't make it any less funny.

I mean, who would be stupid enough to do this? It's actually laughable, what the hell? How could this also be something that has been allowed by the (non-sarcastic) geniuses over at Tesla. This is a company full of the best and brightest our world has to offer, yet they seem to have either overlooked a pretty basic problem in their system, or just have simply thought that it is okay to allow active drivers to play freakin' video games! Please, could someone explain to me how this could possibly have happened? I am eternally confused, and will remain that way for a long time to come. Seriously, guys, what the f**k?


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