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Safety agency says it is looking into Tesla video games that can be played while moving.

Safety agency says it is looking into Tesla video games that can be played while moving.
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Safety agency says it is looking into Tesla video games that can be played while moving.

Safety agency says it is looking into Tesla video games that can be played while moving.

The federal government’s top auto safety regulator said Wednesday it has begun exploring new features in Tesla cars that allow drivers to play video games on a large touch-screen while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement: “We are aware of driver issues and are discussing the feature with the manufacturer.”

The video game feature was included in a software update released by Tesla in the summer. The agency issued a statement after The New York Times reported that auto experts were concerned that the game could pose a security risk by distracting drivers.

The security agency’s inquiry was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Tesla has offered video games on its touch-screen, which dominate its car dashboard and have been used for many years to control many aspects of the vehicle. But the original set of games can be played while in the car park. This summer’s over-the-air update adds solitaire and two other games that can be played by the driver or passenger in the driver’s entire scene, raising questions about safety and the potential to distract drivers from the road.

“Disruption-affected crashes are a concern, especially in vehicles equipped with technology such as entertainment screens,” the security agency said. “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects that pose unrealistic security risks.”

Some safety experts have criticized Tesla’s autopilot system, which can drive, slow down and speed up on its own, and has some safety measures to ensure drivers keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road. There have been at least 12 traffic deaths since 2016 involving Tesla vehicles operating in autopilot mode where hands-free driving and driver negligence were cited as possible causes, according to safety agency data.

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Tesla was aware that new games could be played while the car was running. Before the game starts, a warning is displayed on the screen, “Solitaire is for everyone but playing while the car is running is for passengers only.” The system asks the person who wants to play the game to confirm that he is a traveler, but there is nothing to prevent the driver from clicking the button and starting the game.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

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