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Title: U.S. opens investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles over game feature

Dec 22, 2021 08:01AM ET

By: AnalysisWatch

US auto safety regulators said on Wednesday they have launched a formal safety investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 because the carmaker allows gaming on the centre front touchscreen.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its preliminary assessment covers various Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Y models from 2017 to 2022. The feature, called Passenger Play, "may distract drivers and increase the risk of a crash," the agency said.

The agency previously pointed out in December that distracted driving is responsible for a significant number of traffic deaths in the US—3,142 in 2019 alone. Safety advocates have said the official figures underestimate the problem because not all drivers involved in crashes later admit they were distracted.

The Times reports that the Tesla update added three games—Solitaire, a stream contender, and a successful procedure situation—and says the vehicles have alerts that "gaming while at the same time driving is just taken into account travelers."

As shown by the paper, the gaming feature requires the assertion that the player is an explorer, yet a driver could play by essentially pressing a button.

In 2013, NHTSA issued guidelines to encourage car manufacturers to "consider safety and avoidance of driver distraction" when designing and introducing infotainment devices in vehicles.

The guidelines recommend that "in-vehicle devices should be designed so that they cannot be used by the driver for distracting secondary tasks while driving," the agency said.

The agency launched a safety investigation into 765,000 Tesla vehicles in August in connection with the Autopilot driver assistance system after a series of accidents involving the system and parked emergency vehicles.

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