2021 Tesla steering yoke legal in the United Kingdom, onboard gaming computer for rear occupants only

When the facelifted Tesla Model S and Model X were unveiled, the biggest overhaul was to the interior of both vehicles, and within them was the new U-shaped steering yoke. When Road & Track reached out to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States, the agency said it could not determine if the new vehicles’ steering yoke met federal vehicle safety standards.

The United Kingdom is more definitive, as its Department for Transport (DfT) appears to have given the unusually-shaped control the all-clear. “The regulations relating to steering equipment (UN-ECE Regulation 79) does not stipulate any shape or size of the steering wheel,” it said in its one-line response to The Sunday Times Driving.

By that benchmark, the steering device in a vehicle could take the form of a wheel, a yoke, a joystick or even a handlebar, suggests the news site, and notes that the DfT guidance on MOT inspections specifically refers to the testing of yokes and handlebars on vehicles, which states that the device will pass inspection as long as there isnt’ excessive movement, play, wear or damage.

Of greater concern to the UK DfT is the onboard gaming computer, which appears in the 2021 Model S and Model X. As impressive as its processing power is at 10 teraflops, the UK DfT said that Tesla’s system must not be available to front seat occupants when the vehicle is in motion.

“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,” a spokesperson told The Sunday Times Driving.

This means the vehicle will have broken UK law if the front touchscreen displays the game when the vehicle is on the move, even if the game is being played by the front passenger and not the driver.

The Sunday Times Driving said that a Tesla spokesperson was unable to comment on the exact nature of the games system, however they pointed out that TV and video players already available on current Teslas will disappear from the main screen when the vehicle is put into Drive; this will likely be the same case for the game computer in the latest Tesla models, the news site wrote.

GALLERY: 2021 Tesla Model S

GALLERY: 2021 Tesla Model X

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