The absurdly popular game Pokemon Go has become a worldwide sensation ever since its release last month. The mobile app has been downloaded 100 million times since its July 2016 release. Unlike traditional video games where the player moves a character around on a virtual map, Pokemon Go requires players to move around their neighborhoods and cities in order to move their character around in the game. The game uses GPS to figure out where players are and populates Pokemon on the game map which reflects the local, real-world geography. In order to catch Pokemon, players must leave the comfort of their homes and go outside to find the little creatures.
Almost immediately after the game's release, states and police departments across the country had one message to drivers, "Don't Pokemon Go and drive." Distracted driving is already enough of a problem without adding catching Pokemon to the mix. One news station stated that "[i]t is estimated at any given daylight hour there are 660,000 motorists using a cell phone while driving in the United States." Distracted driving led to over 3,000 deaths in crashes in 2014. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1 out of every 10 car crash deaths is due to distracted driving.
Over the past month, the warnings to not play the game while operating a motor vehicle have gone unheeded by some individuals. Here are just a few stories of drivers crashing while attempting to catch them all:
- In Guthrie, Oklahoma an inebriated driver crashed while trying to catch Pokemon.
- In Baltimore, shortly after the game's release, a driver crashed into a police car while playing Pokemon Go. The crash occurred in the early morning hours and the driver collided with a parked police car. According to news reports, "[p]olice said the driver fully admitted that he was playing the game."
- The Washington Post reported that in Auburn, New York a driver collided with a tree while playing the game. The driver survived the accident, suffering only a broken ankle.
- Another driver hit a patrol car, this time in Delaware. Just after midnight on July 20th, a Rehoboth Beach police officer was "suddenly struck in the passenger side front quarter panel by the vehicle next to him." The collision apparently occurred because the driver's wife "directed him to pull into a median parking space because there was a Pokemon Gym in that direction." The driver didn't check to make sure it was clear before going.
And this is not only a problem in the U.S. Other countries are also experiencing the pitfalls of drivers prioritizing Pokemon over safety . In Singapore, a driver kept starting and stopping his car. A witness suspected the driver and other vehicle occupants were playing Pokemon Go. A short time later, the driver of a white car who attempted to go around the erratic driving dark vehicle, lost control of his car and crashed. No one was injured but the driver who crashed was furious. Another accident occurred in Melbourne, Australia. A 19-year old "crashed his car into a school while playing Pokemon Go." The police stated they think that the man lost control of his vehicle while trying to capture a Pokemon.
Cell phones are an integral part of people's lives nowadays. However, there is a time and place to use them. When driving a car, safety is always going to be a priority over checking a text message or catching a Pokemon. In order to avoid becoming a statistic, don't Pokemon Go and drive.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today.