WASHINGTON — U.S. auto safety regulators are seeking more information from Tesla Inc. in its investigation of the electric vehicle maker's decision to allow video games to be played on the infotainment system.
NHTSA's request comes after Tesla last month told the agency it will stop allowing games to be played on the center touch screen while the vehicle is being driven.
Tesla informed NHTSA that a software update will lock the Passenger Play feature and make it unusable while a vehicle is moving, Reuters reported.
Now, the agency is seeking additional information from Tesla, including any consumer complaints; reports involving a crash, injury or fatality; and lawsuits that may relate to the feature.
The agency also is asking Tesla to furnish a chronology of events and studies that supported its decision to deploy and then revoke the in-vehicle gaming capability, according to a letter sent Thursday to Eddie Gates, Tesla's director of field quality.
Others requests by the agency include the number of times game use occurred while the vehicle was in "drive" mode and whether a front passenger was detected while the feature was being used.
NHTSA also is seeking a chronology of events and studies that support Tesla's driver-distraction risk assessment and its decision to allow nondriving-related tasks from in-vehicle devices in the front seat even if they are only intended for the passenger.
Tesla must respond by March 4, or it could face civil penalties up to nearly $115 million.
NHTSA opened the investigation last month into an estimated 580,000 Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model X and Model Y vehicles from the 2017 to 2022 model years that are equipped with Passenger Play.
The agency, in a report, said it is evaluating the driver-distraction potential of the feature.
The agency received one complaint, which stated, "The video games are allegedly restricted only to passengers" but "web browsing is available to anyone at any time."
"Why is a manufacturer allowed to create an inherently distracting live video, which takes over 2/3 of the screen which the driver relies on for all vehicle information?" the complaint continued.
"NHTSA needs to prohibit all live video in the front seat and all live interactive web browsing while the car is in motion. Creating a dangerous distraction for the driver is recklessly negligent."
NHTSA and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.