US safety regulators are investigating electric car maker, Tesla for an in-car feature that allows drivers to play video games while the car is in motion.
The documentation for the investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the feature, known as “Passenger Play,” has been available to drivers since December 2020.
The games appear on a dashboard touchscreen and are intended for passengers. But nothing prevents drivers from playing while the car is being driven, according to the documentation associated with the investigation.
Before December 2020, video gameplay in Tesla cars was enabled only when the vehicle was in park, the NHTSA investigation document said.
Even if the game is being played by a passenger and not the driver, it “may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash,” according to the NHTSA report
Tesla, owned by Billionaire Elon Musk, produces cars that have driver assist features that allow its cars to slow down, speed up, and even change lanes without active participation from the driver.
But the company warns that drivers using such features, known as “Autopilot” and “FSD,” for full-self driving, must stay alert and keep their hands on the wheel.
The company in recent times has been criticized for making it easier for drivers to not pay attention, as the NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla for at least 11 accidents involving cars using its Autopilot or other self-driving features that collided with emergency vehicles when coming upon the scene of an earlier crash. Those 11 accidents were responsible for 17 injuries and one death, according to the agency.
NHTSA estimates that 3,142 people were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2019.
“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.”