NHTSA opens investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles over game feature

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a formal safety investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017.

The investigation looks into the automakers’ decision to allow games on the front centre touchscreen while the car is driving.

The preliminary investigation covers Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles produced from 2017-2022. The functionality referred to as “Passenger Play” may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.

The NHTSA confirmed the feature first went active in December 2020, reports Reuters. Before then, the game feature could only work when the vehicle was in Park.

The investigation started as the NHTSA was made aware the feature is visible from the driver’s seat and can be enabled while driving the vehicle.

Earlier this month, the New York Times highlighted the game feature. Since then, the NHTSA started discussions with Tesla about the feature and their concerns.

The Times feature noted that the Tesla update added three games for passengers to play while the car was in motion. Passengers could play solitaire, a jet fighter game and a conquest strategy scenario.

A preliminary investigation is the first step to determine if the NHTSA should open a probe. Next, a probe that includes engineering analysis has to happen before the NHTSA declares a recall.

Tesla did not provide a comment on the preliminary investigation.

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