U.S. vehicle safety regulators have opened a probe of approximately 580,000 Teslas to figure out if drivers' ability to play games while the car is in motion might be distracting them.
In documents summarizing the apparently open question that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will now dive into, the agency said it began a preliminary evaluation over concerns gameplay "may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash."
While the possibility for distraction might seem high, or obvious, NHTSA said it actually had only received one complaint in the year since the feature known as Passenger Play became possible during driving, not just when parked.
A retired reporter lodged the complaint last month after discovering he could play Solitaire and browse the internet while driving his Model 3, according to the Associated Press. Vince Patton also found he could bring up "Sky Force Reloaded" while he "did a few loops" in an empty parking lot, the AP said. The game is described as possessing "the spirit of the classic arcade shoot ‘em ups, captured with modern visuals and design."
The agency did not report any known injuries or crashes, and the cars reportedly warn that only passengers should play the games while the vehicle is moving.
In August, NHTSA opened a probe into Tesla's Autopilot feature following crashes involving emergency vehicles — a signal that the regulators were getting around to looking into the possibility humans might be relying on cars to do the driving even though the vehicles aren't capable of doing so safely.
The move came after federal crash investigators at the separate National Transportation Safety Board said that was exactly what was happening, with occasionally deadly results.
The chair of the NTSB has also said the name of Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability is "misleading and irresponsible," and the Federal Trade Commission, which policies deceptive business practices, has faced from calls some lawmakers to look into the Full Self-Driving and Autopilot functions.