Not long after buying a Tesla Model 3 this summer, Vince Patton saw a YouTube clip highlighting a feature that took him by surprise: three video games that can be played on the large touch screen mounted in front of the dashboard — while driving down the road.
“I thought surely that can’t be right,” Mr. Patton, a retiree in Lake Oswego, Ore.
But in a parking lot, he gave it a try, and he was able to play a solitaire game on the Model 3 while in motion. “I only did it for like five seconds and then turned it off,” he said. “I’m astonished. To me, it just seems inherently dangerous.”
The automaker added the games in an over-the-air software update that was sent to most of its cars this summer. They can be played by a driver or by a passenger in full view of the driver, raising fresh questions about whether Tesla is compromising safety as it rushes to add new technologies and features in its cars.
“It’s a big concern if it plays in view of the driver, for sure,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which coordinates state efforts to promote safe driving.
Tesla’s Autopilot system, which can steer, slow and accelerate a car on its own, has for several years faced criticism from safety experts because it allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for extended periods, even though they are not supposed to. And it lacks an effective means of ensuring that drivers keep their eyes on the road.