Tesla to restrict in-car gaming following federal probe

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Tesla Inc. is restricting access to the games available in its vehicles, disabling a feature that allowed people to play games on a front touch screen while driving, according to the top U.S. auto safety regulator.

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The reversal comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, concerned about possible driver distraction, launched an investigation into the feature earlier this week.

For roughly a year, people have been able to play games on the front touch screen of some Teslas while the vehicles were in motion, the agency said. Previously, people were only able to do so while parked, according to NHTSA.

NHTSA INVESTIGATING TESLA'S FRONT-SEAT VIDEO GAME FEATURE IN 580,000 VEHICLES

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the reversal or the timing of its planned change.

Tesla has sometimes struck a combative tone with regulators. Earlier this year, the company said it disagreed with NHTSA that touch-screen failures constituted a defect in its vehicles, though it agreed to move forward with a recall of roughly 135,000 Model S sedans and Model X sport-utility vehicles.

NHTSA has said it received a consumer complaint about Tesla’s in-car gaming earlier this year. The agency said it isn’t aware of any crashes or injuries linked to the feature.

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As of Wednesday, Tesla asked those seeking to play games on the centrally located front touch screen while vehicles were in drive to confirm they were a passenger. Available games included solitaire, Sky Force Reloaded and The Battle of Polytopia. Certain other games weren’t available unless vehicles were parked.

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NHTSA also has been investigating Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system known as Autopilot after a series of crashes involving Teslas and one or more parked emergency vehicles.

Write to Rebecca Elliott at [email protected]

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