Tesla video games will no longer work in cars that are moving

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It will no longer be possible to play video games on a Tesla console while the vehicle is in motion, federal auto safety regulators announced Thursday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that Tesla will send out a software update so the function called “Passenger Play” will be locked and won't work while vehicles are moving. Passenger Play allows passengers to use the front touchscreen to play classic video games like Millipede and Asteroids. 

The announcement comes one day after the agency said it would open an investigation into distracted driving concerns about Tesla's video games.

An agency spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday that regulators discussed their concerns about the system with Tesla. The first software update went out Wednesday as part of Tesla's holiday software release, and the rest of the vehicles should get it before Christmas Eve.

Tesla could not be reached for comment.

The agency announced it would investigate Tesla's screens after an owner from the Portland, Oregon, area filed a complaint when he discovered that a driver could play games while the cars are moving. Passenger Play is supposed to turn on only when a Tesla car is in park, safety officials said.

Tesla owner Vince Patton, 59, filed the complaint last month after discovering the gaming feature could be played by drivers. Patton, who said he loves his car and has nothing against Tesla, said he worried that drivers will play games and become dangerously distracted. 

“Somebody's going to get killed,” he said. “It's absolutely insane.”

Safety officials said they have the same concerns, although there have been no crashes or injuries caused by Passenger Play to date, NHTSA said. 

Despite the upcoming software update, NHTSA said it still plans to conduct its investigation. The probe will cover about 580,000 Tesla Models S, X, Y and 3 from the 2017 through 2022 model years.

NHTSA already is investigating why Tesla's “Autopilot” partially automated driving system keeps crashing into stopped emergency vehicles. It's also looking into the performance of Tesla's “Full Self-Driving” software after getting a complaint that it nearly caused a crash. The systems have been partially blamed for collisions in Detroit and Houston.

Tesla has said neither system can drive vehicles and that drivers must pay attention and be ready to intervene at all times.

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