The US has opened a formal investigation into a report that Tesla vehicles allow people to play video games on a center touch screen while they are driving.
The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 580,000 electric cars and SUVs from model years 2017 through 2022.
The action follows a complaint to the agency that Teslas equipped with “gameplay functionality” allow games to be played by the driver while in motion.
In a document posted online Wednesday, the agency says the feature, called “Passenger Play,” may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.
The agency’s office of defects investigation said in the document that the game capability has been available since December 2020. Before that date, the games could only be played while the Teslas’ automatic system were in “park” mode.
Die ondersoek, which covers all four Tesla models, the S, X, Y and 3, was opened “to evaluate the driver distraction potential of Tesla ‘Passenger Play’ while the vehicle is being driven”.
Investigators “will evaluate aspects of the feature, including the frequency and use scenarios of Tesla ‘Passenger Play’.”
The NHTSA documents do not list any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.
An investigation can lead to a recall. A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.
Tesla vehicle owner Vince Patton, who lives near Portland, Oregon, filed the complaint with the agency last month. In Augustus, he was watching a YouTube video of a Tesla owner who discovered that he could now play a video game on his touch-screen while the vehicle is moving.
Curious to see for himself, Patton drove his own 2021 Tesla Model 3 to an empty community college parking lot, activated a game called “Sky Force Reloaded” from a menu and did a few loops.
“I was just dumbfounded that, ja, Die 67-jarige vrou is deur personeel by 'n kruidenierswinkel in ca., this sophisticated video game came up,” said Patton, a 59-year-old retired broadcast journalist.
He tried Solitaire, ook, and was able to activate that game while driving. Later, he found he could browse the internet while his car was moving.
Patton, who loves his car and says he has nothing against Tesla, worries that drivers will play games and become dangerously distracted.
“Somebody’s going to get killed," hy het gesê. “It’s absolutely insane.”
Earlier in December, Mercedes-Benz issued a recall for a similar issue caused by a computer configuration error, raising questions about whether Tesla was being allowed to do something that other automakers are not. Most automakers disable front touch screens while vehicles are moving.