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According to Reuters, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in contact with Tesla regarding a Dec. 31 tweet from CEO Elon Musk in which he suggested that drivers with over 10,000 miles on Tesla's Full Self-Driving software system should be able to disable the “steering wheel nag,” an alert that instructs drivers to hold the steering wheel to confirm that they are paying attention.
The NHTSA is reviewing whether Tesla vehicles adequately ensure that drivers are paying attention, and is also conducting a defect investigation into 830,000 Tesla vehicles with the Autopilot driver assistance system following crashes with parked emergency vehicles. The Full Self-Driving software, which enables autonomous lane changes and parking and is sold as an add-on for $15,000, complements the standard Autopilot feature, which allows the car to steer, accelerate, and brake within its lane without driver intervention.
Both systems use the steering wheel monitoring function. The NHTSA has opened over three dozen Tesla special crash investigations since 2016 involving advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot, with 19 crash deaths reported. In Dec. 2021, the agency also opened a probe into Tesla's decision to allow games to be played on the front center touchscreen of 580,000 vehicles, citing concerns about driver distraction.
Tesla has since told the NHTSA that it will no longer allow video games to be played on its vehicles' screens while they are in motion.