Pokémon Go and the Dangers of Distracted Driving

The Dangers of Pokémon Go and Distracted Driving

Pokemon Go Distracted DrivingPokémon Go is an “augmented reality” app that allows iPhone and Android users to walk around the real world, looking through the screens of their phones, in search of Pokémon—tiny monsters that can be caught and trained to fight other Pokémon for their trainer’s own amusement…and glory. Once you get past the dogfighting undertones and realize it’s all a game, there are a number of real-world dangers this app presents. “Pokémon Go” Fever is sweeping the nation, much like the California Gold Rush of the 1800s, and it’s only a matter of time before a budding Pokémaster steps into traffic while trying to catch Pikachu.

In their journey to be the very best—like no one ever was—there are reports of Pokémon Go players trying to catch Pokémon on their phones while driving their cars. This form of distracted driving is perhaps more dangerous than texting while driving, as it requires a user to actively use precision movements in an attempt to capture the rascally, anthropomorphized creatures. To complicate things further, it is unclear whether or not Pennsylvania’s no-texting-while-driving law would prohibit a user from catching Pokémon while driving, although common sense certainly would.

Pokemon Go Distracted DrivingDoes Pokémon Go encourage users to drive while playing?

Even more dangerous is, perhaps, the manner in which Pokémon Go incentivizes its users to play while driving their cars. To become aware of a Pokémon’s presence in a given area, the app needs to be open and running on the user’s device while passing through that region. The game then rewards players for traveling across the land—searching far and wide—while running the app, as it presents the user with more opportunities to catch the elusive creatures. It stands to reason that playing while driving would present an aspiring Pokémaster with the ability to surpass his or her pedestrian friends’ attempts to catch ‘em all, as those friends are limited by their inferior speed and inability to search a large geographic region in a short period of time. It seems that much of this danger could be prevented by Pokémon Go’s creators implementing a limitation that prevents its users from interacting with Pokémon or PokeStops while traveling above the speed of a swift jog. While such a feature would prevent kids from playing in the back seats of their parents’ cars, it could also save lives.

Be safe.

In all seriousness, we truly hope that, in light of this craze, that Pokémon Go players exercise extreme caution and good judgment in their hunt. While it’s great to get outside and explore new places, particularly in the beautiful Erie, PA region during the summer, watch where you’re going and don’t attempt to catch Pokémon while driving. All it takes is a split second of distraction to ruin somebody’s life forever. The last place you want to be is in court, on the stand, telling a jury that you mistakenly killed an innocent person because you had to catch ‘em all.

And to all the Pokémon players we’ve seen congregating in front of the church across the street from our office: we hear there’s a whole bunch a few blocks over in Perry Square. In addition to Pokémon-oriented litigation, our law firm handles Pennsylvania auto accident cases throughout the state. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call our office today for a free consultation.

Update: Pennsylvania State Police Post Bulletin Warning Players of Pokemon-related armed robbery

On July 13, 2016, the Pennsylvania State Police posted a Community Awareness Bulletin warning Pokémon players of armed robbers using the “lure” feature, meant to attract Pokémon, to attract unwitting players of Pokemon Go to secluded areas such that they could be robbed at gunpoint. Eleven players were allegedly robbed at gunpoint in St. Louis, Missouri, and local police are worried about similar attacks.

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