With the rollout of its most recent software update, car manufacturer Tesla, Inc. is raising serious safety concerns due to a feature that allows drivers to play video games on the center touch screen while the vehicle is in motion. The video game feature is not a new addition to Tesla entertainment screens, however, previous versions of the software only permitted playing while the vehicle is in park.
The update in the Tesla Model 3 now allows some games to be played while the vehicle is in motion. Intended as a warning, when the game mode is accessed, it requires players to tap a button stating, “I AM A PASSENGER.” Numerous tests of this feature have shown that drivers can tap the button and be granted access to play while the car is in motion. Such activity drastically increases the risk of a serious car accident due to distracted driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the new feature following numerous customer complaints. Tesla features have drawn the attention of the NHTSA in the past as well, including the autopilot system and full self-driving mode and installation of the large entertainment screens enabling drivers to access other interactive features.
Nearly all new cars come equipped with video screens to control various features, including climate control, the radio, and even order food or schedule airline flights on some models. Typically, such functions only work when the car is not moving and in park. Some models have additional screens for passengers to access and watch certain media but are designed so the driver cannot see them.
Automakers must follow federal safety regulations regarding which functions can be utilized on video screens when the car is in motion.
Operating a vehicle while eating, texting, reading, sending emails, and interacting with children and other passengers or pets are all considered forms of distracted driving. Taking your eyes of the road for even a few seconds can result in a deadly crash.
According to the NHTSA, 3,142 fatalities resulted from distracted driving in 2019, making it the contributing factor in nearly 10 percent of all car accidents for that year. Additionally, the NHTSA estimates that approximately 280,000 individuals are injured every year due to such distractions, even though most states have issued bans against cellphone use while driving.
A car accident can happen at any moment, especially if a driver participates in an activity that takes their eyes off the road. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, one of our Delaware car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help. Call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.