WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Monday it was in contact with Tesla (TSLA.O) for a tweet CEO Elon Musk wrote about a driver monitoring feature.
A Dec. 31 tweet suggested drivers with more than 10,000 miles using Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software system should be able to disable “steering wheel nagging,” a warning that instructs drivers to hold the wheel to confirm that they are paying attention. Musk replied: “I agree, the update is coming in January.”
NHTSA on Monday said it was “in contact with Tesla to gather additional information.” The Associated Press reported NHTSA’s statement earlier. Tesla did not immediately comment.
The Auto Safety Agency confirmed that the questions about Musk’s tweet are related to the ongoing investigation into defects in 830,000 Tesla cars with the Autopilot driver assistance system and involving crashes involving parked emergency vehicles.
NHTSA is reviewing whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure that drivers are paying attention, and the previously mentioned evidence suggests that the drivers in most of the crashes inspected complied with Tesla’s warning strategy, which seeks to draw the driver’s attention by raising questions about its effectiveness.
Tesla sells the $15,000 FSD software as an add-on that allows its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously. This complements its standard Autopilot feature, which allows cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention. Both systems use the steering wheel monitoring function.
Last month, NHTSA said it was open two new special investigations in crashes involving Tesla vehicles where advanced driver assistance systems are suspected to have been used. Since 2016, NHTSA has launched more than three dozen special investigations into Tesla crashes where advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot are suspected to have been used, with 19 reported crash deaths.
In December 2021 NHTSA has opened an investigation into Tesla’s decision to allow games to be played by passengers on the front center touchscreen covering 580,000 vehicles over the vehicle’s ‘Passenger Game’ due to driver distraction issues.
Soon after the investigation opened, Tesla told NHTSA it would stop allowing video games to be played on vehicle screens while its cars are in motion, the agency said.
Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Nick Zieminski
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