Tesla is being investigated by federal safety inspectors over a function that allows drivers to play video games while driving.
The option, known as “Passenger Play,” has been available to drivers since December 2020, according to the investigation’s data, which was released Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The games are intended for passengers and appear on a dashboard touchscreen. According to the material related with the inquiry, nothing precludes drivers from playing while driving.
According to the NHTSA investigation paper, gameplay was only possible while the car was in park prior to December 2020. Even if the game is being played by a passenger rather than the driver, the NHTSA warns that it “may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.”
Tesla has been pushing the boundaries of driver assistance technologies, allowing its cars to slow down, speed up, and even change lanes without the driver’s active participation.
The company warns drivers who use full-self-driving functions such as “Autopilot” and “FSD” to stay vigilant and keep their hands on the wheel. Tesla, on the other hand, has been chastised for making it easier for drivers to become distracted, as well as a series of crashes involving cars in Autopilot mode.
Tesla is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for at least 11 accidents involving cars that were using Autopilot or other self-driving features when they collided with emergency vehicles when responding to a previous crash. According to the organisation, the 11 accidents resulted in 17 injuries and one death.
Distracted driving is being highlighted by US regulators as a serious safety problem on American roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 deaths were reported in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2019.
Following a complaint filed by an unidentified Tesla owner in November, the Passenger Play investigation began. According to the complaint, the capability enables for video game play and web browsing while driving.
“The video games are allegedly restricted only to passengers. Web browsing is available to anyone at any time,” said the complaint. “Why is a manufacturer allowed to create an inherently distracting live video which takes over 2/3 of the screen which the driver relies on for all vehicle information? NHTSA needs to prohibit all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the car is in motion. Creating a dangerous distraction for the driver is recklessly negligent.”
Tesla (TSLA) did not react to a request for comment on the probe or the video game feature, despite the fact that it rarely replies to media inquiries.