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Blog NHTSA Wants to Talk to Tesla About Half-Circle Steering Wheel

It seems the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration isn’t sure if Tesla’s new steering wheel design is legal.

The regulator told Road & Track: “At this time, NHTSA cannot determine if the steering wheel meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” the agency told R&T. “We will be reaching out to the automaker for more information.”

Tesla released photos last week of a refreshed Model S, which features interior updates like a horizontal screen and a half-circle steering wheel. Tesla has teased the same half-circle design for the upcoming Roadster.

While it’s not clear how the U.S. government will sound off on the steering wheel design, Road & Track said the design is “dumber than a box of rocks.”

“Every human with a driver’s license is used to having a complete loop for steering duties,” the report said. “Re-training our brains to compensate for a 50-percent-off steering yoke shouldn’t be necessary to safely operate a $70,000 luxury sedan.”

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They're right, we should standardize all human driven vehicles with the same steering wheel... and try using METRIC please so humans don't make stupid mistakes.

So I gather a Joystick is out? Let's just get this "wheel" thingy out of the way already.
We should just Think-n-Go! Think FAST!


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From your photo it looks like lush part of the Sonoran desert. Spent 4 years in Tucson many years ago. Wonderful country. I go back every year for the gem snow and love the drive from Gila Bend to Casa Grande.
OT, while quiet anyway...
It's shot in Tempe Az actually, and that's Bandit focusing on something higher on up ;)
Hey, did you hear about the guy from Gila Bend? (Sorry I can't finish the joke publicly, but I've lived in the area for about 35 yrs and they sure picked on Gila Bend over the radio in my time.)
They're right, we should standardize all human driven vehicles with the same steering wheel... and try using METRIC please so humans don't make stupid mistakes.
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I don’t see what the problem is. Even the super-picky FAA lets aircraft manufacturers come up with their own “flight controls.” Be it a standard U shaped yoke, a Ram’s horn, or a side control joystick. Pilots just get used to whatever they fly.

And as for your rendering of the motorcycle control, any cyclist knows you don’t steer in the direction you want to go. You counter-steer in the opposite direction. Hence why bikes have handle bars, to assist in pushing into the turning side and leaning, which is required to maneuver a bike at speed.
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And anyway, this type of steering wheel is in most race cars albite they have a much shorter lock to lock than a standard steering system. but with modern tech I'm sure they can make a variable lock steering rack depending on speed and type of manoeuvre input to make a yoke style wheel work great. And lastly you are supposed to hold your hands at 3 and 9 anyway...... So the top side is only to scoot from position to position when using full steering lock....... my 2 cents :)
So, a race style steering yoke in place of a wheel is acceptable on exotic cars, but suddenly not acceptable on a high performance sedan? OK, got it. I think...???

That said, I'm not so sure about it either. How can I lazily cruise with one hand on top of the wheel when I'm now forced to hold the yoke in at least one of two of the primary hand positions promoted for safe driving?
Either it's legal or it's not. How can they "not be sure". It's up to them to say it's illegal by pointing to specific laws.

Likewise we know that the automotive design laws are DRASTICALLY outdated in the US. In some cases half century or more old. Technology has made substantial improvements. Plenty of those laws were designed when they couldn't even image what's possible now.

US automotive design laws need to be updated to match the rest of the modern world for things like brake lights, turn signals, exterior mirrors, interior mirrors, headlights; lest I go on. Many of which are implements in Europe and Asia and proven to be much safer; but due to decades old laws in the US they are illegal.