US auto regulators have opened a formal probe into hundreds of thousands of Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) vehicles, after the automaker enabled a feature that allows passengers to play games on the center touchscreen.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Wednesday that it will formally investigate 580,000 Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Ys built between 2017 and 2022, that come equipped with the “Passenger Play” function. The function, which allows a front-seat passenger to play games such as Solitaire on the center console, “may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash,” said the auto safety agency.
The NHTSA said the investigation was opened because the game feature can allegedly be turned on while the vehicle is in motion, and is visible to the driver. The safety agency will be specifically looking into which scenarios the gaming feature is used, and how frequently it is turned on. Although the Passenger Play requests confirmation that the player is in fact a passenger, the safety feature could be easily bypassed by the driver with the simple press of a button.
The safety agency pointed to an alarming rise in distracted driving, which in 2019 accounted for 3,142 road-related deaths. However, safety officials said that figure is likely substantially higher, because not all drivers involved in collisions admit they were distracted while behind the wheel.
Information for this briefing was found via the NHTSA. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.