U.S. Auto Safety Regulators Are Taking a Closer Look at Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play’ Features

by Victoria Santiago
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Auto safety regulators are currently questioning Tesla’s decision to allow ‘Passenger Play’ on the front center touchscreen. This allows passengers in the front seat to play games while the car is being driven. They’ve opened the probe up to almost 600,000 cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened up an evaluation on the automaker back in December 2021. The evaluation encompassed Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Ys made between 2017 and 2022. The agency said that allowing Passenger Play “may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.”

The NHTSA is serious, too. They’ve asked Tesla for records for any crash reports that mention Passenger Play. In addition to that, they want the automaker to tell them exactly how they arrived at the decision to include it in their cars. They want to see the events and studies that Tesla looked over before adding the car feature.

As it turns out, Passenger Play has been enabled on Tesla cars for a while. At first, though, people could only play games while the car was not in motion. A couple of days before Christmas, Tesla told the NHTSA that they would once again lock the feature. A software update would go out that would make Passenger Play unusable if the car was being driven.

Disabling the feature still leaves the NHTSA with a lot of questions. The agency has given Tesla until the beginning of March to answer what they’ve been asked, according to Reuters. Mainly, the safety agency wants to know “trip counts in which game use occurred while the shift indicator was in drive.” In addition to that, they want Tesla to include Passenger Play usage where vehicle sensors didn’t detect someone in the front passenger seat.

Passenger Play Adds On to Tesla’s Numerous Safety Investigations

Tesla has been inundated with safety concerns and investigations lately, and Passenger Play is just the latest. In August 2021 alone, the NHTSA opened a probe into 765,000 Tesla cars due to its autopilot system. The system can control the brakes, among other things. Tesla has repeatedly said that this system is not meant to fully take over control of the car. The probe came after a lot of crashes happened while using the system. There were over a dozen crashes involving the autopilot system.

One such accident could’ve been very serious. In Florida, someone driving a Tesla crashed into a State Trooper. Thankfully, the officer wasn’t in the car at the time. It’s important to note that the State Trooper had actually pulled over to help another car when the crash happened. This car crash was the outlier because no one was hurt. Overall, Tesla autopilot crashes resulted in 17 injuries and even one death.

Outsider.com