A Tesla driver discovered one day last year that he was able to play video games on his car’s dashboard as he was driving. The driver, Vince Patton, tested the limits of what he could do while in motion, playing solitaire, browsing the web, and playing a game called Sky Force Reloaded, AP reported.
Anxious that this feature will result in distracted driving, Patton filed a report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On Wednesday, the NHTSA stated that they have started to look into this issue, stating that they are in communication with the manufacturer.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects posing unreasonable risks to safety,” wrote the NHTSA in an email to Bloomberg. According to AP, the agency has not opened a formal investigation yet, which would entail document requests.
According to Business Insider, the NHTSA stated that vehicle manufacturers are meant to create their in-device systems without the option to perform distracting tasks while driving. For many vehicles with touchscreen dashboards, this means a disabling of certain features when the car is in motion. The NHTSA stated that all visual-heavy secondary tasks are supposed to be tested to see they can be performed without distracting the driver. Anything too distracting must be disabled while driving.
Tesla’s video games require players to confirm that they are passengers before gameplay, but Tesla does not verify if this is true, allowing drivers to lie and play while on the road.
With the rise of car dashboards with Internet features, the NHTSA’s concerns about distracted driving have intensified. According to the agency’s car crash statistics, distracted drivers accounted for “3,142 or 8.7 percent of all fatalities in 2019.” With this in mind, the idea of drivers being able to play games while driving is even more concerning.
Though it is still early, Tesla has yet to comment on the situation.