People doing things they shouldn’t while driving is nothing new nor unique to Tesla, but the automaker is now under scrutiny by the NHTSA for going a step further and enabling in-car video games while driving.

Other than common sense and/or fear of getting caught, there’s nothing stopping anyone from using their phones, including playing video games on them, while driving.

You can get hefty fines for getting caught using your phone while driving. There have been some efforts from smartphone companies to detect driving and warn users not to use their phones while driving, but that’s basically the extent of the effort to prevent the dangerous practice.

As for Tesla, the same problem exists with phones, but the automaker is also introducing a new factor: its in-car video games.

Tesla has recently been putting more work toward video games inside its vehicles with the goal to “optimize fun” with its ownership experience.

Last year, we reported on Tesla building a new video game and user interface team in Austin, Texas. The goal is to build the platform, Tesla Arcade, and onboard as many video games as possible.

It is primarily supposed to be used while parked and charging, but Tesla allows playing the video games while driving after a warning that it should only be used by passengers.

Now Reuters reports that NHTSA is talking with Tesla about concerns over this feature:

“Expressing concern about distraction-affected vehicle crashes, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Wednesday it is discussing with Tesla Inc the electric carmaker’s software update that lets users play video games on a touch screen mounted in front of the dashboard.”

The NHTSA wrote in an email:

“Distraction-affected crashes are a concern, particularly in vehicles equipped with an array of convenience technologies such as entertainment screens. We are aware of driver concerns and are discussing the feature with the manufacturer,” 

The new scrutiny comes as Tesla is expected to release more video games on its arcade platform.

The automaker has a habit of releasing a software update with fun new features during the holidays. Last year, it included three new video games, and a new holiday update is expected in the coming weeks.

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Fred Lambert

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