US asks Tesla about Musk tweet on driver monitoring feature

US asks Tesla about Musk tweet on driver monitoring feature

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Portal) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday it was in touch with Tesla (TSLA.O) over a tweet Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote about a driver monitoring feature.

A Dec. 31 tweet suggested that drivers with more than 10,000 miles using Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software system should be able to disable the “steering wheel nag,” a warning that instructing drivers to hold the steering wheel to confirm they are paying attention. Musk replied, “Agreed, update coming in January.”

NHTSA said Monday it was “in contact with Tesla to gather additional information.” The Associated Press previously reported on the NHTSA’s statement. Tesla did not immediately comment.

The auto safety agency confirmed that the questions surrounding Musk’s tweet are related to the ongoing investigation of 830,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot driver assistance systems and accidents involving parked emergency vehicles.

The NHTSA reviews whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure driver alertness, and previously said evidence indicates that in most of the accidents examined, drivers complied with Tesla’s warning strategy, which aims to force driver alertness , raising questions about their effectiveness.

Tesla is selling the $15,000 FSD software as an add-on that allows its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously. This complements the 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 announced it had opened two new special investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles suspected of using advanced driver assistance systems. Since 2016, NHTSA has opened more than three dozen Tesla special accident investigations suspected of using advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot, with 19 accident fatalities reported.

In December 2021, NHTSA opened an investigation into Tesla’s decision to allow passenger play on the front center touchscreen covering 580,000 vehicles via the vehicle’s “Passenger Play” over driver distraction concerns.

Shortly after the investigation was opened, Tesla told NHTSA that it would stop playing video games on vehicle screens while driving, the agency said.

Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Nick Zieminski

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