Tesla owners can use their vehicle’s screen to play video games while the car is in motion, The New York Times reports.
If it wasn’t clear already, please do not try this at home.
The Times spoke with one Tesla Model 3 owner who was surprised to learn he could play solitaire on his car’s sprawling touchscreen even while the car was in motion.
“I’m astonished. To me, it just seems inherently dangerous,” Vince Patton, who bought his Model 3 this summer, told the paper.
Patton got the idea after watching a YouTube video detailing a software update Tesla beamed out to its vehicles in August. According to the clip, the update added a few games to Tesla’s entertainment system and made it so that games could be played with the vehicle in drive. Before the vehicle had to be in a park, The Times said.
A video from January shows that drivers can play games while their car is in drive, so long as they tap a button confirming that they’re a passenger. Tesla did not return Insider’s request for comment on the report.
For years, critics and safety advocates have criticized Tesla, accusing it of not doing enough to prevent distracted driving, particularly when drivers use Autopilot, a system that automates some parts of highway driving.
In 2016, a Tesla owner named Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S crashed into a tractor-trailer. He was using Autopilot and had taken his hands off of the steering wheel for long stretches of time, an investigation determined. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into at least a dozen recent crashes where Teslas with driver-assistance technology engaged plowed into stopped emergency vehicles.
More than 3,000 road deaths came as a result of distracted driving in 2019, NHTSA says. According to research from AAA, taking one’s eyes off of the road for two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of crashing.
It’s clearly challenging for automakers to remove all distractions from driving. Even without in-car games, there’s little stopping the owner of a Tesla, or any other vehicle for that matter, from using a phone or tablet behind the wheel.
But some car companies make more of an effort than Tesla does. Both Ford and General Motors use infrared cameras to track drivers’ eye and head movements while they’re using hands-free driving features. And it’s common for vehicles to lock drivers out of certain attention-heavy in-screen features while a vehicle is moving.
At a launch event for the Model S Plaid in June, Elon Musk said entertainment features will become more important as Tesla owners rely increasingly on automated driving. Tesla has promised full autonomy for years but hasn’t yet delivered on that goal.
“If you think about where the future of the car is, often in Autopilot or self-driving mode, then entertainment is going to become increasingly important,” Musk said. “You’re going to want to watch movies, play games, use the internet.”