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DETROIT — Under pressure from U.S. auto safety regulators, Tesla has agreed to stop allowing video games to be played on center touch screens while its vehicles are moving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the company will send out a software update over the internet so the function called “Passenger Play” will be locked and won’t work while vehicles are in motion.
The move comes one day after the agency announced it would open a formal investigation into distracted driving concerns about Tesla’s video games, some of which could be played while cars are being driven.
An agency spokeswoman said in a statement Dec. 23 that the change came after regulators discussed concerns about the system with Tesla.
The statement says NHTSA regularly talks about infotainment screens with all automakers. A message was left Dec. 23 seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.
The agency said its investigation of Tesla’s feature will continue even with the update.
“The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with defects posing unreasonable risks to safety, including technologies that distract drivers from driving safely,” NHTSA’s statement said. The agency said it assesses how manufacturers identify and guard against distraction hazards due to misuse or intended use of screens and other convenience technology.
The agency announced Dec. 22 that it would formally investigate Tesla’s screens after an owner from the Portland, Ore., area filed a complaint when he discovered that a driver could play games while the cars are moving.
The agency said that the “Passenger Play” feature could distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.
The probe covers about 580,000 Tesla Models S, X, Y and 3 from the 2017 through 2022 model years.
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