In the few weeks since its release, Pokémon Go has quickly become an international sensation. Created by Niantic Inc., this new app combines virtual reality with actual reality and gives fans the chance to experience the joy of being a Pokémon Trainer. The game is encouraging exercise, bringing likeminded players together, and helping to increase small business revenue across the US. Yet, Pokémon Go could have dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.
Despite warnings from Nintendo, some people continue to play the game while driving, focusing on their phone screens instead of on the road. As with any other forms of distracted driving, repeatedly looking away from the road in front of you greatly increases your chances of a car accident. And that’s exactly what happened in Auburn, New York. A 28 year-old man was playing Pokémon Go while driving and crashed his car into a tree. Though the car was severely damaged, the driver is expected to make a full recovery.
It’s not only distracted driving that is causing Pokémon Go-related accidents. There have also been reports of pedestrians walking into traffic, robbers specifically targeting distracted players and, in one report, two players crossed into a fenced-off area and walked off the edge of a cliff. Miraculously, none of these people were fatally injured, yet all of these instances could have been avoided entirely had these players focused more on their surroundings and less on their phones. Just as it is the responsibility for motorists everywhere to pay attention to the road, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when walking along busy roads or highways.
Safety Tips for Playing Pokémon Go
- Do not play Pokémon GO while driving. Every year, thousands of car crash fatalities happen as a result of distracted driving. Looking down at your phone, even for a few seconds, could cause an accident. Keep your phone off and your eyes on the road.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you’re playing at night. Pay attention to where you are walking and the people who are around you.
- Bring a friend. Not only is catching Pokémon with your friends a fun experience, there is always safety in numbers.
- Watch for signs as well as Pokémon. If you trespass onto private property or ignore construction signs that might be outside of buildings or other dangerous areas in an attempt to catch Pokémon, you may end up putting yourself in danger and could end up breaking the law. Remember, any Pokémon that appears in a restricted area will reappear in another, safer location at another time. Stay safe. Pikachu can wait.