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Tesla Model 3 Driver’s License Suspended for Using Touchscreen to Adjust Wipers

A final verdict in a German court of law is bound to reopen the debate on whether sizable touchscreens in vehicles make driving safer and easier for everyone involved, or they count as “distractions.”
Tesla Model 3 driver has license suspended for using touchscreen to adjust wiper speed 25 photos
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The judge presiding this particular case has ruled that it’s the latter: infotainment screens that act as central controllers are still electronic devices. As such, using them while on the road is illegal and poses a serious danger to everyone involved, Auto Motor Und Sport reports.

The latest verdict stems from an early 2019 incident, in which the driver of a Tesla Model 3 crashed the car into an embankment and some trees. At the first lawsuit, which was filed some months later, the driver said that he had not been paying attention to the road because he was adjusting wiper speed on the car’s center-mounted touchscreen. He was looking down at the screen, instead of on the road.

The driver argued that the touchscreen was a “safety control panel,” because it also displayed an odometer. As such, he was using it legally and was not guilty of reckless operation, which would have entailed a €200 ($236) fine and one-month suspension of his driver’s license.

The judge initially ruled that the touchscreen was an electronic device, but the driver appealed the decision. At the final hearing (which means the sentence can’t be appealed anymore), the judge at the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that, indeed, “the touchscreen permanently installed in the Tesla vehicle is an electronic device.”

Since the driver can’t adjust the speed of the wipers with just one click and a quick glance (there’s a multi-option menu to navigate before making the final choice), use of the touchscreen “is permitted to the motor vehicle driver only under the conditions” of German regulation, “regardless of the purpose the motor vehicle driver pursues with its operation.”

Translated from legalese: even if the driver used the Model 3 touchscreen as a control panel, he still did so illegally because of the extended time he had to look away from the road. Moreover, there’s an analog control for the wipers on the wheel, and the driver could have used it.

As per the final ruling, the driver will have to pay the fine and find an alternative means of transport for the following month, because his license is suspended.

 
 
 
 
 

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