U.S. Regulator Investigating Tesla Over a Video Game Feature

Drivers can be distracted playing games while the vehicle is in motion, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, following a New York Times report earlier this month.

A top federal auto safety regulator has opened an investigation into Tesla vehicles equipped with a feature that allows drivers to play games on a dashboard touch screen while the car is in motion.

“This functionality, referred to as ‘Passenger Play,’ may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Tuesday in a document filed on its website.

The action comes after The New York Times reported on the safety concern earlier this month.

The inquiry by NHTSA, which is part of the Department of Transportation, covers about 580,000 cars and sport utility vehicles from model years 2017 through 2022.

The video game feature has been available since December 2020 in some Tesla vehicles, NHTSA said. “Prior to this time, gameplay was enabled only when the vehicle was in park,” the agency added.

Vince Patton, a retiree in Lake Oswego, Ore., filed a complaint with NHTSA through its website after buying a Tesla Model 3 this summer. He said he was able to play a solitaire game on the Model 3 while in motion.

“I’m astonished,” he told The Times. “To me, it just seems inherently dangerous.”

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