(CN) — A day after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was looking whether Tesla’s feature that allows video games to be played on vehicle dashboards is a safety hazard, the automaker said it will send a software fix to lock the feature when the car is moving.
The fix affects about 158,000 cars manufactured from 2017 to the present and include the automaker's X, S and 3 models.
According to the agency, it planned to investigate whether the feature could be used by or distract drivers.
"Tesla gameplay functionality, which is visible on the front center touchscreen from the driver's seat, is enabled even when the vehicle is being driven,” the agency said in a document. “This functionality, referred to as “Passenger Play,” may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.”
Prior to 2020, the feature could only be accessed when the car was in park. It does warn users that it is only meant for passengers and should not be accessed by those driving the car.
“This PE [preliminary evaluation] has been opened to evaluate the driver distraction potential of Tesla "Passenger Play" while the vehicle is being driven,” the agency said.
In the end, the agency said Tesla agreed to send a software fix to lock the feature after discussions between the parties. The update went to some vehicles Wednesday and the rest should receive the fix Thursday.
The agency published a report this month saying that 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving in 2019, the latest year statistic were available.
The issue with Tesla vehicles came to the attention of regulators after Vince Patton, a Tesla owner from Oregon, said he saw a YouTube video that indicated video games could be played in the car while the vehicle was in motion.
Earlier this year Mercedes-Benz issued a massive recall after a computer error was discovered in some models of their cars that allowed drivers to browse the internet or watch television while the car was in motion.
The highway regulator already published rules that say car manufacturers cannot install features that distract drivers with secondary issues apart from the maintenance of the vehicles.
The video games in question include Solitaire, a conquest strategy game and a flight simulator.
The preliminary evaluation is the first step in a process that could eventually result in a recall of the affected vehicles, a potential headache for Tesla.
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