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Photo: JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla has agreed to modify a feature that lets drivers play video games on the front-center touch screen while the car is in motion, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson said Thursday.

Driving the news: The change came just a day NHTSA opened a probe into some Tesla models over the feature, known as Passenger Play, on the grounds that it "may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash."

  • The agency was set to investigate Tesla Model 3, S, X and Y cars from 2017 through 2022 that are equipped with the function — an estimated 580,000 vehicles.

What they're saying: "Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s 'Passenger Play,' Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature," the highway regulator said in a statement.

  • The gameplay feature "will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion," per the statement.
  • "The Agency maintains regular discussions with all manufacturers to discuss potential safety concerns of these systems, including Tesla’s response to our concerns about this feature."

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

A new reality check on self-driving cars

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Some carmakers and tech companies say they're preparing to deliver self-driving cars to consumers within just a few years, a fresh promise that makes it seem like 2016 again. But beware the hype.

Why it matters: Your car might be capable of driving itself in the not-too-distant future, but only under certain conditions, like favorable weather or within certain geographic limits. And the timetable is squishy at best.

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker