The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Tuesday that it is concluding its investigation into 580,000 Tesla (TSLA.O) vehicles due to the automaker’s initial decision to permit games to be played on the front center touchscreen.
Shortly after the NHTSA launched its investigation into Tesla’s “Passenger Play” in December 2021, Tesla agreed to cease allowing video games to be played on moving vehicle screens. NHTSA announced Tuesday that it would not seek a recall of the vehicles, but that its analysis of data provided by Tesla “produced significant concerns about driver distraction during the time it was available.”
NHTSA stated that by concluding the investigation without requesting a recall, it was not indicating “that there is no safety-related defect.” Additionally, it does not preclude the agency from taking further action if deemed necessary.”
Tesla, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, informed NHTSA that during the subject vehicles’ first year of use, no consumer complaints or collisions involving Passenger Play had been reported.
NHTSA reported a 97% completion rate one month after Tesla voluntarily disabled Passenger Play capability with an over-the-air software update. The NHTSA’s investigation encompassed Tesla vehicles sold with the feature since 2017.
NHTSA stated, “The apparent use of Passenger Play while the vehicle was not in Park on approximately one-third of trips where the feature was enabled demonstrates the importance of technology-based lockouts over administrative controls such as labeling or disclaimer screens.”
NHTSA issued guidelines in 2014 to encourage manufacturers to incorporate safety and driver distraction prevention into the design and implementation of in-vehicle infotainment devices.
The NHTSA’s standards “recommend that in-vehicle devices be designed so that they cannot be used by the driver to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving.”
The NHTSA is conducting an investigation into 830,000 Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot and involved in collisions with stationary emergency vehicles.
NHTSA stated on Tuesday that the purpose of its Autopilot investigation is to “better comprehend human factors in relation to Tesla interfaces and the dynamic driving task.”