Tesla’s decision to remove the gear selector lever from the steering wheel and automate switching between park, reverse, neutral, and drive (PRND) does not violate any federal motor vehicle rules, a spokesman for the National Traffic Safety Agency said in Roads. The edge.
Gear selection via the touchscreen is a backup, while Tesla is still working to fully automate the process. A video of the new touchscreen interface that will be available on updated versions of Tesla’s Model S and Xs appeared earlier this week, causing a bit of a stir about the safety of using a touchscreen to control such basic and critical functions. for security.
But the NHTSA says that Tesla is not violating any safety standards with its unorthodox approach to PRND, and is not aware of any problems “at this time.” The spokesperson said in an email (emphasis ours):
NHTSA is aware of the touchscreen shift control that Tesla developed for its Model S and other vehicles. A properly configured transmission shift control operated via a touch screen interface would not violate federal motor vehicle safety regulations. Additionally, Tesla has certified compliance with all applicable safety standards. At this time, there are no known compliance issues related to change control settings.
The operative phrase is “at this time” because the updated versions of the S and X are only now reaching customers. If problems arise, NHTSA says it is ready to act and urges Tesla owners to report any safety issues to the agency on its website or by calling the vehicle safety hotline.
By law, all vehicles sold in the US must be self-certified by the manufacturer as meeting all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That certification is in the form of a label on the door jamb of each vehicle.
NHTSA is already investigating more than two dozen crashes involving Tesla vehicles. Earlier this week, NHTSA said it would dispatch its special accident investigation team to investigate two crashes in Michigan, including a crash involving a Tesla suspected of being on autopilot when it crashed into a US police car. stationed state police.
Tesla also recently agreed to recall more than 134,000 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs that will eventually suffer faulty displays due to pressure from NHTSA.