Tesla’s controversial turn signals are going to ding its near-perfect safety rating

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Tesla’s controversial turn signals without the traditional steering wheel stalk are going to make the automaker lose its near-perfect safety rating in Europe.

Over the last few years, Tesla has built an impressive collection of top safety ratings from safety organizations all around the world.

We previously reported on the Model Y acing its safety test with NHTSA and achieving the highest possible IIHS safety rating.

The electric vehicle also got the top safety score from Euro NCAP and Australia’s ANCAP.

But now Euro NCAP has warned Tesla that it is at risk of not getting its top safety score anymore because of its turn signals.

Starting with the Model S and Model X refresh in 2021, and now in the new Model 3, Tesla has got rid of the steering stalks, which have been traditionally used for turn signals.

Instead, Tesla is now using force touch buttons on the steering wheel to activate the turn signals. The move is controversial. Some are seeing it as a natural progression for Tesla, which has long been moving away from analog inputs and buttons. Others see it as Tesla going too far in that direction.

Euro NCAP announced that it plans to crack down on the “overuse of touchscreen” inside vehicles. The agency said that in order to get a 5-star rating, cars will have to have “physical controls” for “turn indicators, hazard warning lights, windscreen wipers, horn, and SOS features.”

Matthew Avery, director of strategic development at Euro NCAP, commented on the new guidelines (via Hagerty):

“The overuse of touchscreens is an industry-wide problem, with almost every vehicle-maker moving key controls onto central touchscreens, obliging drivers to take their eyes off the road and raising the risk of distraction crashes.”

Euro NCAP can’t directly outlaw specific auto features, but it can’t encourage the industry as the main car safety rating body in Europe.

Electrek’s Take

This is going to be interesting. Tesla has always optimized to get the top safety rating, but it looks like the automaker is going to have to choose between its force touch turn signals and 5-star in Europe.

Honestly, I don’t think the force touch turn signals are too bad. It takes some getting used to, like anything, but I don’t know for sure that it’s not as safe as a stalk once you get used to it.

But I’m no auto safety expert like NCAP.

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