It was only a matter of time.
That didn't take long. Only a day following The New York Times report revealing Tesla drivers can play video games while vehicles are in motion, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reached out to the EV automaker with concerns over the feature's safety. Owners have had this capability since an over-the-air-update last summer but it was widely assumed video game access was only possible when the car was parked. Apparently, that's not the case. Playing video games is not a great idea while driving and the federal agency is rightly concerned.
Per Reuters, the NHTSA says "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."
Tesla does have a warning stating: "Playing while the car is in motion is only for passengers." The temptation to play video games for some drivers, not only passengers, could result in serious accidents. The list of games includes solitaire, a jet fighter, and a conquest strategy scenario.
The Times' report confirmed there is a display button seeking confirmation the user is a passenger. Drivers could easily lie. Not surprisingly, Tesla did not respond to comment about this report and its ongoing talks with the NHTSA. The carmaker is already under an agency investigation over potential faults with its Autopilot driver-assist system.
The safety watchdog is also concerned about the more advanced Full Self-Driving Beta system, a more advanced form of Autopilot. Every new Tesla, from the base Model 3 to the most expensive Model S Plaid, is capable of video game access, presuming the owner has performed the most recent OTA update.
So far, there have not been any reported accidents due to the feature, but it may be only a matter of time until someone abuses the system. Last May, a Model 3 owner was arrested after being caught driving in the car's back seat while Autopilot was activated.