Tesla disables video games on moving car screens, according to US security probe

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The electric car maker Tesla will stop playing video games on vehicle screens while driving, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Thursday.

The move follows an announcement by the NHTSA on Wednesday that it opened a formal safety investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 because the automaker decided to play games on the front center touchscreen while driving.

This feature, known as “passenger play,” can distract the driver and increase the risk of accidents, according to the NHTSA.

Tesla has told NHTSA that a software update will disable the “Passenger Play” feature and render it unusable when the vehicle is in motion, a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.

“The NHTSA is continuously evaluating how manufacturers identify and protect distraction hazards that may arise from failure, misuse, or intentional use of convenience technologies, including infotainment screens,” the agency said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Safety advocates have raised concerns that drivers may not be careful in traffic, especially when Tesla vehicles are operated in semi-autonomous mode called autopilot.

The distraction of a driver – likely from a phone game application – was one of the causes of a fatal accident involving a Tesla car operating on autopilot in California in 2018, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NHTSA launched a safety investigation of 765,000 Tesla vehicles via its autopilot system in August after a series of accidents involving the system and parked ambulances.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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