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Tesla Investigated Over Video Game Feature Available to Drivers in Moving Cars

Tesla Investigated Over Video Game Feature Available to Drivers in Moving Cars

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is launching a formal investigation into whether Tesla’s “Passenger Play” capability allows drivers to play video games on the center touch screen while the car is in motion, according to the Associated Press. The agency received a complaint about the feature last August.

“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?” the complainant asked.

The NHTSA will evaluate more than half a million Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 to determine how often “Passenger Play” is used and what level of safety risk it poses to drivers. All four Tesla models – the S, X, Y and 3 – are under investigation, according to The Verge.

“NHTSA based its decision on reports that Tesla’s gameplay functionality is visible from the driver’s seat and can be enabled while driving the vehicle,” NHTSA spokeswoman Lucia Sanchez said. “No commercially available motor vehicles today can drive themselves.”

The agency’s Office of Defects and Investigations confirmed that live games and web browsing have been available to anyone inside “Passenger Play”-equipped Teslas, whether moving or parked, since December 2020.

The majority of car manufacturers disable touch screens altogether while vehicles are in motion. At least 34 states also have “video screen restriction” laws in place. Tesla’s touch screen safety precautions are limited to a warning message against playing video games while driving – raising questions about whether the company adheres to the same rules as other automakers.

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