Because we're not distracted enough on the road.
Tesla upgrades its vehicles often through over-the-air updates and this summer it added a new feature. It wasn't completely out of the blue, we had heard of CEO Elon Musk wanting to play role playing game The Witcher on its central screen, but that was when the car was standing still. According to a report from The New York Times you can now play simple games while the car is in motion.
"I thought surely that can't be right," Mr. Patton, a Tesla Model 3 owning retiree in Lake Oswego, Oregon told NYT. "I only did it for like five seconds and then turned it off," he said. "I'm astonished. To me, it just seems inherently dangerous."
We've had screens in cars for years now, but automakers have smartly stopped short of playing things for the driver. Some cars have rear entertainment and others have a right-side screen for the passenger. But this system is playable while the car is moving by both driver and passenger. This can only hurt the company in its upcoming NHTSA probe.
NYT reports that distracted driving is a major cause of crashes, which has risen almost 20% in 2021 as people are still driving at pandemic speeds, but also with pandemic stresses still playing a huge role. Driver inattention is the official cause of about 10% of traffic deaths, according to Steve Kiefer from GM. But even he thinks the number might be closer to 50%.
Video games on the main screen of a vehicle would certainly be considered distracting, even if you weren't the one playing. And we can attest from personal experience that focusing on a screen while someone else is driving isn't great for your equilibrium either.
We're sure the NHTSA will have something to say about this too, after it's done diving in on the "full self-driving" issues. Other automakers have solutions for this. Most infotainment entry functions are disabled while driving, and the backup camera has to turn off at 5 mph. If you see a Tesla on the road with a jetpack or without one, just be aware. It might be driving itself, the driver might be sleeping, and now he or she might be playing video games. Happy motoring!