Norwegian driving schools are implementing bans on new Tesla vehicles due to concerns surrounding the electric automaker's unconventional turn signal feature. In Norway, where electric vehicles dominate, and Tesla holds a significant market share, the lack of a traditional stalk for turn signals has raised safety apprehensions among driving instructors.
The turn signal functionality, introduced in Tesla's Model S and Model X and later incorporated into the popular Model 3, relies on force touch buttons located on the steering wheel. Tesla's rationale for deviating from the universally adopted turn signal method, utilizing a physical stalk, is rooted in the company's vision for a future where manual turn signal activation becomes obsolete with the widespread adoption of self-driving technology.
However, the move has sparked discontent among driving school instructors in Norway, prompting some to ban Tesla vehicles from their training programs. Jåhn Hansen Øyen, the operator of Harstad Traffic School, expressed reservations about the Model 3's turn signal design, particularly in roundabouts, a scenario where indicating the exit is crucial. Øyen found the force touch buttons challenging to use while turning the steering wheel in roundabouts, potentially leading to issues such as driving on curbs or impacting other vehicles.
Following Øyen's observations, several driving school instructors echoed similar concerns in a group discussion, emphasizing potential safety risks, especially for novice drivers. The specific challenge highlighted in roundabouts, where precise turn signaling is imperative for passing driving tests in Norway, has contributed to the decision by some driving schools to prohibit the use of Tesla vehicles featuring force touch turn signal buttons.
Lars-Inge Haslie, a senior adviser in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, has expressed intent to investigate the matter, acknowledging the shared concerns within the driving school community.
Tesla's turn signal mechanism has become a focal point of discussion in a country where electric vehicles are the norm, and driving instruction increasingly involves EVs. The controversy underscores the balance between embracing technological advancements and ensuring safety standards in driver education.