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Tesla’s new touchscreen unit selector does not violate the rules, says NHTSA

‘At this time, there are no known compliance concerns related to the shift control configuration’

Tesla’s decision to remove the gear selector rod from the steering wheel and automate the shift between parking, reverse, neutral and driving (PRND) does not violate any federal motor vehicle rules, said a spokesman for the National Traffic Safety Agency. on the Highways to The Verge.

The selection of gears via touchscreen is a backup while Tesla still works to fully automate the process. A video of the new touchscreen interface that will be available in updated versions of Tesla’s Model S and X appeared earlier this week, causing a stir about the security of using a touchscreen to control such basic functions and essential for safety.

But NHTSA says Tesla is not violating any security standards with its unorthodox approach to PRND, and is not aware of any problems “at the moment”. The spokesman said in an email (emphasis added):

NHTSA is aware of the touch screen shift control that Tesla has 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 standards. In addition, Tesla has certified compliance with all applicable safety standards. There are currently no known compliance issues related to the shift control configuration.

The operational phrase is “right now” because the updated versions of the S and X are only now reaching customers. If problems arise, NHTSA says it is ready to take action and urges Tesla owners to report any safety concerns to the agency on its website or by calling the vehicle security hotline.

By law, all vehicles sold in the United States must be self-certified by the manufacturer as meeting all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). This certification takes the form of a label on the door frame of each vehicle.

NHTSA is already investigating more than two dozen accidents involving Tesla vehicles. Earlier this week, NHTSA said it was sending its special accident investigation team to investigate two accidents in Michigan, including an accident involving a Tesla suspected of being in autopilot mode when it collided with a parked state police patrol car. .

Tesla also recently agreed to collect more than 134,000 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs that will eventually suffer from defective screens after pressure from NHTSA.

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