NHTSA might put the brakes on Tesla’s decision to remove FSD Beta steering wheel nag

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking Tesla for more information on the company’s decision to remove the steering wheel nag for some Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta testers.

According to a report by the Associated Press the NHTSA confirmed on Monday they are in contact with Tesla regarding them disabling of the driver-monitor feature later this month, and that their inquiry is encompassed within their existing investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system.

This latest inquiry stems from a tweet from CEO Elon Musk on New Year’s Eve, who said that a January update for FSD Beta testers would see them retire the steering wheel nag. The news came while responding to a tweet from @WholeMarsBlog who said the feature should be turned off for those who have driven 10,000 miles or more with the system engaged. Musk did not clarify in his response if there would a 10,000 mile threshold, or whether those accumulated miles must strictly be while using FSD Beta, or if Autopilot mileage will count towards that total.

With this inquiry it seems unlikely that Tesla will release the update to disable the steering wheel nag as scheduled.

However, even if Tesla were to disable the steering wheel nag drivers would still be responsible to maintain attention and be prepared to take over control of the vehicle at any time. Tesla’s FSD Beta system is still considered a Level 2 system, which means the system can control steering, acceleration, and braking in specific scenarios, but still requires driver attention.

Without the steering wheel nag, Tesla can still monitor driver inattentiveness using their cabin camera, something which it already does in vehicles equipped with the hardware. For those that are found to be abusing FSD Beta and get five strikeouts, Tesla recently changed the amount of time you are unable to use the driver-assist software down to “approximately two weeks.”

Tesla also recently allowed owners to use the cabin camera to monitor the inside of the vehicle when Sentry Mode or Pet Mode are turned on.

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