The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its preliminary assessment covers multiple vehicles. Tesla Model 3, S, X and Y from 2017 to 2022. This functionality, called “Passenger Play”, “can distract the driver and increase the risk of collision”, the agency indicated.
The NHTSA said that “confirmed that this capability is available from December 2020 on Tesla vehicles equipped with ‘Passenger Play'”. Previously, the game function “was enabled only when the vehicle was parked”.
The NHTSA stated that “Will evaluate aspects of the feature, including frequency and usage scenarios for Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play'”. The company had no immediate comment.
Earlier in the month The New York Times highlighted the gaming feature, prompting NHTSA to say it was in talks with Tesla about it.
The agency highlighted earlier this month that distractions behind the wheel account for a significant number of deaths on US roads: 3,142 in 2019 alone. Safety advocates have said official figures underestimate the problem because not all drivers involved in accidents later admit they were distracted.
The Times said the Tesla update added three games – solitaire, a fighter jet, and a strategy of conquest scenario – and said the vehicles have warnings that read: “Playing while the car is in motion is for passengers only.”
The media stated that the gaming feature asks for confirmation that the player is a passenger, although a driver could continue playing by simply pressing a button.