In case you haven’t heard, or haven’t “caught them all,” Pokemon Go has swept the nation. The immensely popular augmented-reality game played on a smartphone app and available on iOS and Android has captivated the attention of casual and dedicated young and old, but unfortunately there have been reports of dangerous side effects.
The free game, which was launched on July 6, 2016 has already surpassed “Candy Crush Saga” as the biggest mobile game in United States history with millions of active daily users. Pokemon Go has separated itself from other video games because it encourages players to get outside and walk in an effort to find virtual characters based on a GPS-powered map that reflects the real world location in which players are standing.
While you will see players venturing around the neighborhood park or downtown streets by foot, players are also driving to different locations which is causing major problems. On July 12, 2016 an illegally parked car on Texas A&M University’s campus was struck from behind after the driver had parked and exited the car to catch a Pokemon sustaining injuries in the process.
The following day in Auburn, New York, 28-year-old Steven Cary crashed his car into a tree while playing Pokemon Go. The distracted driver suffered minor injuries but the vehicle sustained major damage due to the crash.
“a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences”
Incidents such as these have forced authorities to create new policies and guidelines for players. Due to a large amount of photos being taken of Pokemon characters from behind the wheel, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been issuing public safety warnings. DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan reminded the public that “a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences,” and asked New Yorkers to “put their phones down instead of playing the popular Pokemon Go game while behind the wheel or walking near or across roadways.” According to The Daily Beast, local police departments are regularly posting reminders about the dangers of Pokemon Go, “Don’t catch and drive” messages have been posted on many public safety Facebook and Twitter feeds, and even highway emergency notices have read “Don’t Pokemon and Drive.”
Unfortunately, it’s not just car accidents that have public safety officials concerned. Last Wednesday, firefighters were called to rescue two men in North San Diego County, California who had walked off a cliff while playing the game, causing injuries. The two men were not playing the game together, but had the same result. Firefighters only found the second man, who was unconscious a few feet below.
Catching Pokemon...and Staying Safe
The Frankenmuth (Michigan) Police Department released a full statement urging parents to talk with their children about the dangers of playing the game, and reminded drivers that it’s never a good idea to drive and play at the same time. They have also provided the public with safety tips for “catching them all”:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look up and be aware of who is around you besides Pokemon.
- Parents limit places kids can go. Set boundaries and timelines to avoid danger areas where children will venture unattended and require to routinely check in using their cell phone.
- Don’t “Pokemon Go” and drive: Catching Pikachu isn’t worth crashing.
- Tell people where you’re going and play in a group and stay with them.
- Don’t trespass it is not just disrespectful...it can be dangerous. People might call the police if you enter private property and your Pokemon can’t help you.
- If you are stopped by police: show them you are playing a game since more than likely they are responding to a suspicious person call which has been called into 911 by a citizen.
Distracted driving is a big problem in the United States without Pokemon Go, but the game according to some, has added cause for drivers to be extra caution while out on the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident because the driver was distracted playing Pokemon Go or any other reason, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Speak to an experienced lawyer who will fight for you to get the appropriate aid needed, including wage loss recovery, medical transportation, and in many cases, pain and suffering compensation. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.