Tesla owners have long been able to play video games on the car’s touchscreen while the car was in park. But a summer 2021 software upgrade by the car manufacturer allows passengers to play games while the vehicle is in motion. The problem? Drivers can also play when the car is moving. All it takes is a simple override of the I am a Passenger button.
Some Tesla Model 3 owners have raised concerns about this feature after testing it while driving. Many have filed official complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and directly with Tesla. The NHTSA says it is currently in discussions with Tesla, which has not made a public statement about the concerns.
Tesla has already been the focus of investigations for its beta autopilot vehicles that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for extended periods, even though they are not supposed to do so. The cars also lack effective security measures that warn drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Although the current focus is on Tesla, other car manufacturers will need to take heed. Touchscreens in vehicles are quickly becoming the standard as buttons and knobs are being phased out. As a result, vehicles are becoming even more dangerous, and distracted driving even more of a concern. Distracted driving is a major cause of a car accident.
The NHTSA has issued guidelines for automakers stating that in-vehicle entertainment devices should be designed so that drivers cannot use them for inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is generally defined as anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off driving. Distractions include the following:
Cellphones. Texting, talking, reading emails, taking pictures or videos, perusing social media, and getting driving directions can all be done from a cellphone. Unfortunately, every one of those activities is dangerous while driving. The National Safety Council estimates that more than a quarter of all car accidents involve cellphone distractions.
Cellphone usage is one of the top distractions for drivers and a leading cause of accidents. Studies show that a distraction such as a cellphone can take someone’s attention off the road for up to 40 seconds. This is a sobering thought considering accidents can happen in a second.
GPS/navigation systems. A GPS may be tied to a cellphone or be a stand-alone device. Although they are great for directions, they are not so great for distractions. Programming the device while driving is an absolute hazard, while glancing up and down is dangerous as well. Program the device before leaving and use voice directions whenever possible.
Passengers. Passengers can be very distracting for drivers, especially younger drivers who may be carrying rowdy and loud passengers. Young children and babies can also be distracting. Even a deep conversation with a passenger can take a driver’s mind off the road.
Pets. Most dogs love car rides. Unfortunately, pets that roam freely in the vehicle can be distracting and dangerous.
Radio/video volume. Loud music, or videos for the children, can be quite distracting. The music can take your mind off driving, while high volumes can muffle the sound of sirens and other signals important to a driver.
Fiddling with controls. Every vehicle has buttons, knobs, and touchscreen controls. Looking down or reaching over to fiddle with a control can be a dangerous distraction.
Reaching for something. Some drivers may need something on the floor beside them, the back seat, or the glove compartment. It is not safe to reach for items while driving; wait until you stop.
Food and drink. Eating or drinking on the go is unsafe. Pull over to a parking lot or wait until you get to your destination to eat.
Roadside attractions. Sometimes a funny sign, unique building, or awe-inspiring nature will cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. Remember, it takes only a fraction of a second to cause an accident.
What if I Am Injured in an Accident Because of a Distracted Driver?
Although most people are not tooling around town playing video games on a Tesla 3, there are still plenty of distractions for drivers of any type of car. Unfortunately, many of these distracted drivers cause accidents that injure you or your passengers.
If you are in an accident caused by a distracted driver, the following are some excellent tips.
- Call 911 and wait for help. Always accept medical help that arrives on the scene, even if you think your injuries are minor or believe you are not hurt at all. Some injuries do not appear until later.
- While waiting for help, talk with bystanders and other witnesses. Ask them for statements about what happened and get their contact information.
- Take pictures and video of the accident. Record as many images as possible: vehicle damage, bodily injuries, strewn parts, road conditions, weather conditions, vehicle locations after the accident, and general background shots.
- Cooperate with law enforcement officers. Be honest but do not ever admit guilt or fault. Do not apologize to the other driver or talk about the accident with anyone.
- Get medical help after the accident. Get a thorough check-up from your doctor immediately after the accident and whenever new symptoms crop up. Some injuries take hours, days, or even weeks to appear.
- Do not accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer. You are entitled to the highest compensation possible when a distracted driver causes your accident. An insurance company will not offer you that.
- Contact a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your damages, including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Advocate for Those Involved in Car Accidents
Car accidents can be devastating emotionally, physically, and financially. If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligent driving, contact the Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman. Our lawyers are skilled in negotiating and litigating just and fair compensation for clients in car accidents. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Mount Laurel and surrounding areas.