Teslas' infotainment system allowing passengers to play games right on the car’s screen is nothing new, but the manufacturer made an important change to it recently. It added a new function to Tesla Arcade this summer, Passenger Play, which allows users to essentially override the safety feature that prevented anyone from playing while on the move before the update.
This got Tesla in hot water with some owners who found Passenger Play’s safety lock could easily be overridden. What you have to do in order to get the car to let you play games on the move is simply tap on the obvious on-screen button that tells the car you are a passenger.
And some of the disgruntled owners who did not agree with Passenger Play actually filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), arguing this is a real safety hazard. Now the institution has opened a formal investigation into Passenger Play, which is available in over 580,000 vehicles.
This includes all models produced by Tesla, the Model 3, Y, S and X that were built between 2017 and 2022. It’s also this year’s second formal probe after the NHTSA previously launched another that looked into the company’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system.
The agency officially announced that its
Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is opening a Preliminary Evaluation (PE) on certain model year (MY) 2017 - 2022 Model 3, S, X, and Y vehicles based on reports that Tesla gameplay functionality, which is visible on the front center touchscreen from the driver's seat, is enabled even when the vehicle is being driven. This functionality, referred to as “Passenger Play,” may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.
ODI has received one Vehicle Owner Questionnaire (VOQ) describing the gameplay functionality and has confirmed that this capability has been available since December 2020 in Tesla "Passenger Play"-equipped vehicles. Prior to this time, gameplay was enabled only when the vehicle was in Park.