New Tesla steering wheel is legal in the UK

The Department for Transport has confirmed that Tesla’s unusual steering control will pass through UK safety regulations

Tesla steering wheel

Tesla recently launched updated versions of the Model S saloon and Model X SUV, both of which feature U-shaped flight yokes in place of conventional steering wheels.

When Tesla released the first images of the cars’ interiors, many questioned the legality of the firm’s unusual new steering wheel. However, the Department for Transport has since declared the design legal.

The Sunday Times contacted DfT for an official response – and the department provided a single line statement which read: “The regulations relating to steering equipment (UN-ECE Regulation 79) does not stipulate any shape or size of the steering wheel.”

UK regulations mean that a car’s steering equipment could be anything – a wheel, a joystick, a handlebar or Tesla’s unusual new flight yoke – and still remain legal, providing the system can be used to maintain control of the vehicle and meet UK MOT standards for excessive play or movement.

Despite this legislative triumph for Tesla, the company could soon fall foul of a different road traffic law which prevents the driver from viewing media devices while the car is in motion.

When Tesla unveiled the updated Model S and Model X, the brand also announced a new feature for their infotainment systems called the “Tesla Arcade.” The company says its latest touchscreen has enough processing power to run modern video games – and that “wireless controller compatibility allows gaming from any seat.”

A DfT spokesperson also told the Sunday Times: “By law, drivers can only use screens when viewing driving information related to the state of the vehicle or its equipment, when navigation is displayed, or when assisting in viewing the road around the vehicle. Under the Road Vehicles (Constriction and Use) regulations, screens used for anything else should not be visible to the driver while the vehicle is being driven.”

That means that, even if it’s the front passenger who’s playing the video game, it would be illegal while the car was in motion as the screen is within the driver’s eyeline. However, rear seat passengers would legally be allowed to use the extra screen on the rear of the centre console for gaming – even when the car was moving.

It’s worth noting that the infotainment systems on current Tesla models can be used to watch TV and online streaming services – but the system becomes unavailable when the cars are in motion. Tesla will likely introduce a similar system for video game access.

Now read all the latest news on the updated Tesla Model S. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…

Recommended

'Other brands should be a bit more Tesla’
Opinion Tesla steering wheel
Opinion

'Other brands should be a bit more Tesla’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks Tesla should be praised for its original approach to selling cars
3 Feb 2021
Tesla infotainment system recall extended to UK cars
Tesla recall
News

Tesla infotainment system recall extended to UK cars

Customers are reportedly being prevented from using certain safety features, leading regulators to push for Tesla recall
3 Feb 2021
“A Tesla merger? How about one with Volkswagen?”
Tesla

“A Tesla merger? How about one with Volkswagen?”

With Elon Musk saying if a merger with another firm were on the cards he “would have this conversation”, and Volkswagen streamlining its operations, c…
2 Dec 2020
Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving beta’ released but drivers must pay constant attention to the road
Tesla

Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving beta’ released but drivers must pay constant attention to the road

Controversial move by Californian EV maker follows criticism from road safety experts of the naming of its driver assistance systems
22 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look
Range Rover Sport render
News

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look

Our exclusive images preview what the upcoming Range Rover Sport could look like
12 May 2021
Average speed cameras on motorways get approval from drivers
Average speed camera
News

Average speed cameras on motorways get approval from drivers

UK drivers are in favour of average speed cameras on motorways despite the majority admitting to breaking 70mph limit
10 May 2021
Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched
Range Rover Evoque HST
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SUV

Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched

New Range Rover Evoque P300 HST comes with 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol power
12 May 2021