US probing whether Tesla gaming feature poses crash risk

New York (AFP) – US officials are probing whether Tesla's "passenger play" videogame function could lead to crashes, according to an online posting Wednesday by a federal safety agency.


The feature, available on an estimated 580,000 Tesla models from 2017 through 2022, "allows the gameplay to function on the front center touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion and may present a distraction to the driver," according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Questions about the videogame function follow earlier NHTSA probes of systems at Elon Musks' electric vehicle company centered on the controversial "Autopilot" driver-assistance program.

NHTSA said it has confirmed that the gaming function has been available since December 2020 in many Tesla vehicles, after only being enabled in park mode on earlier autos.

The investigation will question whether a function intended for use by a front seat passenger "may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash," NHTSA said.

NHTSA undertook the probe following a customer complaint earlier this year.

"Why is a manufacturer allowed to create an inherently distracting live video which takes over two-thirds of the screen which the driver relies on for all vehicle information?," said a complaint from Lake Oswego, Oregon.

"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."

Despite various controversies, shares of Tesla have soared over the last two years, making Musk the world's richest person, according to Forbes.