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The U.S. Government Is Investigating Tesla for Letting Drivers Play Video Games

The investigation includes 580,000 cars.

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Although many of Tesla's technical capabilities can be helpful, some might be putting people in danger. On Tuesday, the U.S. opened a formal investigation into Tesla over allowing drivers to play video games on a large touchscreen while the vehicles are moving.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos | Getty Images

"Tesla vehicles [that are] equipped with 'Passenger Play' which allows the gameplay to function on the front center touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion and may present a distraction to the driver," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wrote in its report.

The probe covers 2017-2022 Model 3, S, X and Y Teslas equipped with "Passenger Play" and SUVs from model years 2017 through 2022 ⁠— which is about 580,000 cars. 

Related: Tesla Reportedly Charged Some Customers Twice for New Cars, Leaving Them With Bills of Up to $142,000 and No Refund After Nearly a Week

The issue was introduced when Tesla made a software update over the summer, adding solitaire and two other games to its touchscreen systems. One Tesla owner, Vince Patton, filed a complaint with the agency last month after discovering that he could play a video game on his touchscreen while his vehicle was moving. It appears that drivers are asked if they're passengers before the video games can be activated while the car is in motion, but Patton found that he could still easily access the game by lying.

"To date, the agency has received one owner complaint describing the gameplay functionality and has confirmed that this capability has been available since December 2020 in Tesla 'Passenger Play'-equipped vehicles," an NHTSA spokesman wrote in an email to NPR. "Before this time, enabling gameplay was only possible when the vehicle was in park."

Related: Watch Tesla's Full Self-Driving Navigate from SF to LA with (Almost) No Help